Dormouse559 wrote:How closely connected was the average Egyptian to the epic necropolises and the sarcophagi slathered in gold? All I'm seeing here are artifacts of the rich and powerful.
(Insert standard "I should by no means be considered an actual expert of any kind on anything" warning here.)
The term "Ancient Egypt" is used to refer to an enormously large period of time. Now, I don't know what the current field of "mainstream" egyptology generally considers to be acceptable beginning and end dates for the period of time defined as "Ancient Egypt", if such a general consensus has even been reached, but you don't have to set the end points at ca. 3100 BC, the unification of Upper and Lower Egypt under (probably) Narmer/Menes, and ca. 30 BC, Cleopatra's suicide following the Battle of Actium (among other events), to see what a long period of time "Ancient Egypt" was.
That took more words to say than I thought it would, but the point is that cultures are constantly changing. Over three thousand years, a culture would change a lot
. Being able to trace your cultural ancestry (or being able to have your cultural ancestry traced by outsiders once your civilization "falls") back several thousand years doesn't mean you're exempt from that kind of change. We can't look at the (relatively) few artifacts that we still have from (mostly) upper-class people who lived at different points throughout a three thousand year period approximately two thousand years after the civilization in question "ended" (and that's only one possible "end date") and say that the civilization/culture in question was "monolithically" focused on anything
. If someone were to argue that modern egyptology is largely focused on the subject of death in "Ancient Egyptian" culture and religion, I might be inclined to agree (at least based on what I've personally experienced… hell, I can see a translated copy of a version of "The Book of the Dead"* from where I'm sitting right now). But that's not what's being argued here.
Yes, preparing for the afterlife was a fairly significant aspect of "Ancient Egyptian" religion, especially for the rich and powerful, but death was not even close to being the only thing people, especially common people who weren't employed in death-related industries, thought about on a daily basis. Off the top of my head, I'd say that farming/the Nile was pretty important to the majority of "Ancient Egyptians", and I'd bet that that's an aspect of the culture that didn't change as much over thirty centuries as customs and beliefs relating to death, burials, and the afterlife. There were thousands of years of food, war, art, prayer, trade, architecture, fear, love, recreation, and so much more - just like any other civilization/culture/society/whatever. Yes, there was death too, but death is universal - I wouldn't say that death was considerably more prominent at all in "Ancient Egypt" than in most other cultures, modern or premodern. And I suppose you could argue that many of those things (art, architecture, fear, war, prayer, etc.) can be tied back to death, but come on… the same kind of argument could be made to make pretty much any culture seem "monolithically" focused on pretty much anything.
To paraphrase a misquotation, reports of Egyptian funerary customs have been greatly exaggerated.
(*I think it's worth mentioning that the concept of "The Book of the Dead" only really came into popular use near the beginning of the New Kingdom, ca. 1550 BC. If I had to guess, I'd say that a lot of what most people today think of as "Ancient Egyptian" is actually more characteristic of the New Kingdom, AKA Dynasties 18-20, in particular, which by itself lasted roughly 500 years, a few centuries longer than the US has existed as of 2015.)
I meant to give my two cents, but it looks like I ended up dropping a few bucks where they weren't needed… Anyway, I personally don't have a problem with how Ahzoh has described their conculture's views on death (or anything else about them, for that matter). They've even said that they don't mean for the culture to be obsessed with death and death alone. Such a culture, thought up by anyone, would almost certainly be unrealistic, but I myself wouldn't immediately write it off as uninteresting. But Ahzoh's conculture, or that of anyone else, was not the point here, at least not in my eyes.
I feel like I should add that this isn't meant as an attack of any kind on anyone.