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Their friends and relatives who were still living would greet the sunrise with gratitude for their efforts and would think of them every morning. As in all ancient cultures, remembrance of the dead was an important cultural value of the Egyptians and this version of the afterlife reflects that. Even in versions where the soul arrives in paradise it could still be called upon to man The Boat of Millions, the sun barge, to help the gods protect the light from the forces of darkness.

For the greater part of Egypt's history, however, some version of the paradise of the Field of Reeds, reached after a judgment by a powerful god, prevailed. A wall painting from the tomb of the craftsman Sennedjem from the 19th Dynasty BCE depicts the soul's journey from earthly life to eternal bliss. Sennedjem is seen meeting the gods who grant him leave to pass on to paradise and is then depicted with his wife, Iyneferti, enjoying their time together in the Field of Reeds where they harvest wheat, go to work, plow their field, and harvest fruit from their trees just as they used to do on the earthly plane.

Scholar Clare Gibson writes:. The Field of Reeds was an almost unimaginably ideal version of Egypt where cultivated crops grew to extraordinary heights, trees bore succulent fruit, and where transfigured souls who all appeared physically perfect and in the prime of life wanted for nothing in the way of sustenance, luxuries, and even love If a soul was not interested in plowing fields or harvesting grains in the afterlife, it could call on a shabti doll to do the work instead.

Shabti dolls were funerary figures made of wood, stone, or faience which were placed in the tombs or graves with the dead. In the afterlife it was thought one could call on these shabtis to do one's work while one relaxed and enjoyed one's self.

The Valley Is A Temporary Place

Once the shabti went off to work, the soul could then go back to relaxing beneath a favorite tree with a good book or walk by a pleasant stream with one's dog. The Egyptian afterlife was perfect because the soul was given back everything which had been lost. One's best friend, husband, wife, mother, father, son, daughter, cherished cat or most dearly loved dog were there upon one's arrival or, at least, would be eventually; and there the souls of the dead would live forever in paradise and never have to part again. In all of the ancient world there was never a more comforting afterlife imagined by any other culture.

Editorial Review This Article has been reviewed for accuracy, reliability and adherence to academic standards prior to publication. We're a small non-profit organisation run by a handful of volunteers. Become a Member. Mark, J. Egyptian Afterlife - The Field of Reeds. Ancient History Encyclopedia. Mark, Joshua J. Last modified March 28, Ancient History Encyclopedia, 28 Mar Submitted by Joshua J. This license lets others remix, tweak, and build upon this content non-commercially, as long as they credit the author and license their new creations under the identical terms.

Please note that content linked from this page may have different licensing terms. Mark published on 28 March Popular View of Egyptians as Death Obsessed Egypt has been synonymous with tombs and mummies since the late 18th, 19th, and early 20th centuries CE when western explorers, archaeologists, entrepreneurs, showmen, and con men began investigating and exploiting the culture.

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Remove Ads Advertisement. If the soul passed through the Weighing of the Heart it moved on to a path which led to Lily Lake. Mark Bunson, M. The Encyclopedia of Ancient Egypt. Gramercy Books, Faulkner, R. The Ancient Egyptian Book of the Dead. British Museum Press, Gibson, C.

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The Hidden Life of Ancient Egypt. Saraband, Goelet, O. The Egyptian Book of the Dead. Chronicle Books, Nardo, D. Living in Ancient Egypt. Pinch, G. Oxford University Press, Wilkinson, R. David, R. Religion and Magic in Ancient Egypt. Penguin Books, About the Author Joshua J. Mark has lived in Greece and Germany and traveled through Egypt.

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He has taught history, writing, literature, and philosophy at the college level. Related Content Filters: All.

No buildings on that half-acre. In Raymond, thanks to Thomas Dabney, Waller had gotten in touch with a slave seller named James Ware, a year-old with Virginia roots.

Waller knew his family. At the Forks, Waller found a poke salad of low wooden buildings, long and narrow, each housing a dealer, each with a porch and a dirt yard in front. The yards were parade grounds that worked like showrooms. Slaves for sale wore a uniform of sorts.

Egyptian Afterlife - The Field of Reeds

The display was weirdly silent. They were sorted by sex and size and made to stand in sequence. Men on one side, in order of height and weight, women on the other. This sorting arrangement meant that it was more likely children would be sold from their parents.

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At the Forks, there were no auctions, only haggling. Buyers looked at the people, took them inside, made them undress, studied their teeth, told them to dance, asked them about their work, and, most important, looked at their backs. The inspection of the back made or broke the deal. Many people had scars from whipping. After examining the people on display, a buyer would talk to a seller and negotiate. It was like buying a car today. The man in the South who has done the most to call attention to the Slave Trail was born in Natchez in His parents named him Clifton M.

During the black power years of the s he renamed himself Ser Seshsh Ab Heter. Machines did not replace human hands until the s. Boxley is He is bearded white and gray, and half bald.

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He is direct, assertive and arresting, with a full baritone voice. He does not make small talk. He carries a poster, 4 by 6 feet, in the back of his red Nissan truck. He lives alone in a five-room cottage in a black section of town, away from the camera-ready center of Natchez.

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The tan clapboard house—folding chairs and a hammock in the front yard, cinder blocks and planks for front steps—overflows inside with books, LPs, folk art, old newspapers, knickknacks, clothes in piles and unidentifiable hoards of objects. In a front room, a parallel—dozens of photos of the slave factories of Ghana and Sierra Leone, where captives were held before being sent to the Americas.

Boxley left Natchez in , at age He spent 35 years in California as an activist, as a teacher, as a foot soldier in anti-poverty programs. He came home to Natchez in and discovered Forks of the Road. The site is empty but for the five markers, paid for by the City of Natchez. They say there were no feelings here. He tells the back story.