Instead of saying saying that the ancient Egyptians focused on death, it is better to say that they focused on life. However, the life that they focused on was the afterlife. The Egyptians went to great lengths in terms of burial ceremonies to ensure that their bodies would be preserved and their souls would be granted peace. It was believed that after they died they had to pass through the Hall of Maat which was also known as the Hall of Judgment or the Hall of Two Truths.
Maat was believed to be a goddess as well as the personification of truth, justice, and morality. In paintings the dead are often depicted as being lead by Anubis, also known as Inpu in ancient Egypt, into the Hall of Maat. Anubis is portrayed as the jackal headed god of the afterlife. Once the dead had entered the hall, Anubis would take their heart and place it on a scale to be weighed against the feather of Maat. The feather represented the truth, justice, and morality previously mentioned.
If the dead had a good heart and passed the test they would then be allowed entrance into the Fields of Peace with the rest of the gods. If the heart did not pass the test, Ammut, a female demon of the Egyptian underworld, would devour the heart condemning the soul for the rest of eternity. If, however, the dead were allowed to pass, they would then be lead to meet the King of the dead, Osiris.
The Egyptians lived by a set of commandments much like the Christian religion which prevented them from committing certain sins if they wanted to find peace in the afterlife. These sins included theft, adultery, sins against the gods, lying, murdering, and harming another to name a few. The Book of the Dead can be reviewed for a complete list of the forty-two negative confessions. Although these confessions are comparable to the Christian religion, Egyptian religion differed severely from typical Semitic religions in that the dead were judged immediately following their death rather than waiting for an actual Judgment Day.
Maat, like most female goddesses in the Egyptian culture, was paired with a male god. Thoth was Maat’s counterpart in ancient Egyptian texts and paintings. Thoth also happened to be one of the most important gods of the Egyptian parthenon and was often depicted as having the head of a baboon. Thoth was portrayed as the intelligence and tongue of the Egyptian sun god, Ra. Thoth and his wife, Maat, have been seen standing on either side of Ra in many paintings. His role was just as important as his wife’s in the judgment of the dead. He recorded the result of the scales that weighed the heart of the dead and the feather of Maat.
Once the dead passed the test of the scales they introduced to Osiris, the ruler of the dead, and a merciful judge of the afterlife. Much in the way that the God of Christianity is described, Osiris was the referred to as the Lord of Love. Not only did he rule the afterlife, he also granted life and vegetation to the people of Egypt by providing them with the flooding of the Nile and an abundance of growth in healthy foods.
The hope of the Egyptians was that they would pass the test of the scales in the hall of Maat in order to be granted new life filled with prosperity for all eternity after their death. So in essence, the main focus of their ancient culture was not a focus on death. It was instead a focus on life after death. The Egyptians prepared throughout their lives for what would come after their death by living according to the rules against sin. Inevitably, it was the Christian religion that eventually suppressed the Egyptian religion and the belief in Ra, Maat, Thoth, Anubis, Ammut, and Osiris. However, the ancient religion of the Egyptians still lives on through texts and paintings that have survived over several centuries.