From Expectation to Desperation --On the Origin and Development of the Idea of Afterlife in Ancient Egypt
JIN Shou-fu (Department of History, Fudan University, Shanghai 200433, China)
Most of the cultural relics and sites that have come down to us from ancient Egypt have something to do with the ancient Egyptians' religious beliefs and ideas of afterlife. Throughout the history of thousands of years, the Egyptians did not give up their efforts in obtaining the life beyond. They kept on preparing mummies, digging tombs and offering sacrifices for the dead. On the surface, their views of the afterlife remained the same, however, if we read carefully the relevant surviving documents, we would recognize that their attitude toward the life and the afterlife had undergone great changes. Especially their autobiographies show us their mixed feeling of hope, dread and anxiety concerning the inevitable theme of death.