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Characteristics of Religion and Beliefs in Ancient Egypt: Analytical Essay

Ancient Egypt was an unsurpassed civilization in the Mediterranean region for nearly three thousand years until its conquest by Alexander the Great (History.com Editors, 2009, para. 1). Teeter states that religious features emerged from those beliefs maintained the union of Egyptian society and made it possible for them to exist nearly three thousand years. Religion was integrated into every aspect of Egyptian society from art to administration. Temples and tombs were encountered in every landscape. Even they looked like a people obsessed with religion so that they limited their potential of progression, they had a life of rhythm that was like today’s human. Their perspective of world was also interesting. They shaped their understanding of world only according to the concrete principles they could observe. This ideology was enough to satisfy Egyptian people in the manner of intellectual curiosity. They maintained same perspective of universe throughout their history. Egyptians might look shortsighted but kept existing through three millenniums and left remarkable relics (2011, p. 1, “The Egyptian Mind”). Throughout the introduction, basics of Egyptian ideology and effects of religion on society were explained. Taking above into the consideration, the complex structure of religion and beliefs in the Ancient Egypt can be characterized by priests, gods, mummification, art, and magic.

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First, priesthood was one of the important aspects of religion in Ancient Egypt. As stated by Teeter, compared to total population more than half of the people served in temples. According to the texts, priests were the ones who carried out the works in temples. Priests weren’t dictators in context of religion. Main task of the priests was to serve and favor the gods but only half-time so that they could deal with their other professions (2011, pp. 16, 17). Serving the gods was significantly important duty to maintain harmony on land (Teeter, 2011, p. 41). Teeter indicates that organization of priesthood was based on the ranks and every priest had a specific duties, benefits, and varying amount of access to parts of the temple according to their ranks. The chief priest was governor of the local post. These priests were the most powerful figures in land besides the king. To become priest being pure was most important condition. For Egyptians, purity was to have clean physical state by washing, not mental state (2011, pp. 19, 26, 32). As conclusion, it can be said that priests had important tasks in context of religion, and they were respected by society.

Second significant aspect of religion is concept of gods. Teeter states that gods of the Ancient Egypt were integrated into life in Ancient Egypt like temples. Egyptians created enough channels of contacting gods for society from important people to ordinary people. People had relationships with gods mostly in an individual way. People were contacting gods to let them serve as an oracle, which is a divine judgement, for assistance in any personal real-life problems or matters of society. Gods were helpful to those who served them properly. Disobeying or communicating without control with the god was messenger of anger of the god which was named as bau. This side of the god would be appeased by items like amulets or offerings. To please the god rituals were made in systematic way. These rituals were made because gods were modeled as humans so that they needed a physical pleasing. Most of these rituals were in the form of offerings to the god (2011, pp. 41, 45, 46, 76, 103, 112, 118). Taking above into consideration, it can be said that gods were indeed respected and served carefully by Egyptian people. Teeter highlighted that offerings made to gods day by day was essential ritual in Ancient Egypt religion. By this ritual, gods were maintained then offered with foods, drinks, and cosmetics. Each step of the ritual was important because they carried symbolic meanings. All these offerings were made to cult statue of the god (See Figure 1). Cult statues were solid forms of gods (ka). It was believed that once the statue was filled with the energy of the god (ba), that statue became the ka of the god.

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