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Ancient Egyptians, from pharaohs to peasant farmers, had one overriding belief in common: the Afterlife. Because so much of what has survived from ancient Egypt has come from astonishingly well preserved tombs, it is easy to assume that Egyptians were obsessed with death. On the contrary, Egyptians loved life so much that they believed nothing could be better than an afterlife exactly like it—but without pain or sorrow, hard work, or occasional food shortages. They had their bodies preserved as mummies and they built tombs—including the iconic pyramids—as “houses of eternity,” places for living after death with all their favorite possessions.
Tutankhamun’s tomb as it looked when first discovered by amateur archaeologist Howard Carter in 1922.
At first I could see nothing, the hot air escaping from the chamber causing the candle flame to flicker, but presently, as my eyes grew accustomed to the light, details of the room within emerged slowly from the mist, strange animals, statues, and gold—everywhere the glint of gold.