Much of the historical Egyptian culture was based around the laboring of peasants who were to build monuments which would grant their rulers immortal life. These monuments are presently known as the Pyramids of Egypt, one of the man-made wonders of the world. The religion of the ancient Egyptians held the firm belief of an afterlife. Because of this firm belief, much of the lives of the Egyptians were based around preparing for this life-after-death. The monumental pyramids were seen as ‘super-highways’ to this afterlife.
In other words, they granted the kings of Egypt direct passage to demi-god status. Interestingly, there are some similarities between the gods of Egypt and modern day Christianities idol, Jesus Christ. The Egyptian god Osiris died and was born again, according to Egyptian lore. This directly relates to how Jesus died, and after three days, rose again in the form of a spirit. Because of this belief in Osiris, all Egyptians believed in an afterlife, and thought they too would be born again in another world. The world of the Spirit.
Much of this Documentary was based around the metaphysical beliefs of the Egyptians, and how those beliefs shaped the Egyptian culture. Most all Egyptians were highly religious, and had supreme faith in their gods and goddesses. So much so in fact, that most of the Egyptian cities and monuments were named after, or built for, these gods. Many offerings were made to these gods, and were thought to appease them. During the time of King Ramses, the most power deity was the sun god Amun Ra. He was patron of the City of Thebes, located on the Nile River.
Located near the city were many shrines dedicated to this supreme god of Egyptian lore. On the West of the Nile River, where the sun sets each day, are situated the Valley of the Kings, and the Valley of the Queens. Royalty was buried in these areas, and they are a focus of much modern day excavation. Found in these tombs are numerous icons depicting the Egyptian gods. The icons were a form of animism, or the belief that the gods manifested and took shelter in these sculptures. During Ramses reign, Thebes was a magnificent sight to behold.
It could perhaps be equivilated to modern day New York. Although these sites were most certainly magnificent in their day, due to the process of erosion, grave robbers, and tourism, many of these monuments are being lost to time. Because of this tragedy, a lot effort has been put forth to maintain these sites. Also, due to the ecology of the Egyptian desert, erosion happens more quickly than in other parts of the world. This is due to the extreme dryness of the desert, and the high winds which latterly sand-blast the monuments and hieroglyphs away.
Drawings and research must be done quickly, so that they are not lost forever. The hieroglyphs which cover the walls of these monuments describe much of the history of Egypt, and so are our only record of the religion and life of these ancient people. The documentary highlights many of the significant findings of these glyphs. One interesting fact is that as kings replaced kings in a succession of ruler ship, they often added to monuments built before their reign. This process created a timeline of sorts which archeologists can transcribe to understand the flow of historical events.
Archeology allows modern day humans to comprehend the cultural distinctions of past cultures. I particularly enjoyed watching this documentary. Being and advocate of cultural relativism, it is easy for me to slip into the mindset of these ancient peoples, and gain a glimpse of the world from their eyes. I think it is of the utmost importance to preserve the knowledge of ancient cultures, in order to ground our own modern ways of thought. Looking into the past to see our origins can help us to better understand our place on this earth, and where we are headed.
If the studious archeologists were not working diligently to preserve the artifacts and monuments of ancient Egypt, just think about how much valuable knowledge could be lost. One of the interesting facets of this documentary, for me, was relating the ancient Egyptians religion to modern day religions. Egyptians were polytheistic, meaning they believed in multiple gods. This is distinct from popular modern day religions which characteristically worship one god, sometimes with a trinity of sub-dominant ones.
However, even though they were polytheistic, during Ramses reign much of their concentration was put upon the sun god Amun Ra. To me it is evident why this would happen. My hypothesis is that because the sun is such a significant part of life (even more so during the time of the Egyptians) it is obvious why it would take precedence over other gods. The sun provides light and warmth, without which we could not see. It also provides energy to crops, which were of supreme importance to historical cultures. In summary, this documentary had much ado about preserving the ancient knowledge of the Egyptians.
Much of the Egyptian way of living was based around worship of their gods, and preparing for an afterlife. Because of their extreme loyalty to these gods, many monuments and hieroglyphics were created to pay tribute and appease them. Today, archeologists can decipher these symbols and gain a clearer view of what it must have been like to live during that era. Without the dedication to preserving this knowledge, we would have less of an idea of where we came from as humans. By gaining an understanding of our origins, we can better understand who we are today.