Egyptian mummies are the stuff of legends, cryptic video games and adventure films. But why did the Egyptians make mummies in first place?
Egyptians made mummies because of a belief they had in the magical power of images. They thought all people have a spirit that travels to an after life when the body dies. In this after life, spirits can do anything a living body can do. In order for that to happen, though, the spirit needs a recognizable body to dwell in—like a mummified one If the body is destroyed, the spirit can’t stay in the after life.
Ancient Egyptian spirits took many forms. The two most common forms are the ka and ba. The ka form is a person's double that stays by the body's tomb. Egyptians believed that people who took the ka form were made by a god named Khnum, pronounced “Ka-noom.” Khnum had a rams head. In fact, many Egyptian gods have an animal head and a human body.
The ka lives until its body's death and then journeys to the after life. Egyptians believed that making a mummy would ease the spirit's journey to the after life. Once there, the body can rest in peace. Most of the spirit forms need water and food to survive.
Unlike the ka, the ba can leave its tomb and explore. Egyptian legend claims that the ba can take any shape or form it wants. The ba is usually illustrated by Egyptians as a bird with a human head. During the day, the ba can fly out of its tomb and travel through walls. At night, the ba must return to its tomb.
Many religions and cultures express belief in some sort of after life. The Egyptian's version of how to get there is unique and fascinating.
[Source: Mummies, Tombs, and Treasure secrets of the Ancient Egypt]