The ideas and beliefs which the ancient Egyptians held to a future existence are not readily defined. They were so curious about the afterlife that the question spawned a whole new writing genre – funeral literature. The Amduat is the oldest illustrated book on the subject, and Thutmose’s tomb is the oldest discovered burial site featuring the entire book.
Meaning “that which is in the netherworld”, the Book of the Dead was believed to contain the secret to eternal life, holding the knowledge that was needed to pass from this world to the next.
The Egyptians believed that death was a parallel state of existence, a state of transit between the old form of life in decay and a renewed form full of vitality in death.
According to the Book of the Dead, “confusion of details also seems to have existed in the minds of the Egyptians themselves”.
Author E. A. Wallis Budge wrote in his analysis on the Book of the Dead “Egyptians believed in a future life of some kind is certain”.
However, Wallis Budge stated that while evidence is apparent that ancient Egyptians believed in eternal life, “we are nowhere told that man’s corruptible body will rise again”.
He adds: “There is, however, no doubt that from first to last the Egyptians firmly believed that besides the soul there was some other elect of the man that would rise again.
“The preservation of the corruptible body too was in some way connected with the life in the world to come.”
Ancient Egyptians believed the body does not lie in tomb inoperative “for by the prayers and ceremonies on the day of burial it is endowed with the power of changing into a Sahu, or spiritual body”.
It is also said in Egyptian mythology, that the human body has a “degree of knowledge”, where it becomes “lasting and incorruptible”.
The book claims the body has the power of associating with the soul and of holding converse with it in heaven, “dwelling with the gods”, and “with the souls of the righteous”.