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How the Differing Tombs Were Designed to Protect the Deceased

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A tomb is an enclosed space for the repository of the remains of the dead. Traditionally tombs have been located in caves, underground, or in structures designed specifically for the purpose of containing the remains of deceased human beings and, often, their possessions, loved ones, or, as at the tomb known as `The Great Death Pit' at the city of Ur, one's servants. The Natufian Grave in Israel, which dates from c

12,000 BCE, contained the remains of a man buried with his dog.

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Egyptians main aim was to attain immortality which came after death. This yearning can be used to explain the practice of preserving the bodies, mummification. During the Old Kingdom it was thought that only pharaohs and the ruling elite would make it to the after- life and hence only those persons were mummified. As the middle kingdom and New Kingdom emerged Egyptians belief changed in that eternal life was available to everyone. Even though mummification never became general practice in Egypt it transcended kingdoms, procedures were developed and beliefs were associated with the practice. “Ancient Egyptian civilization was based on religion; their belief in the rebirth after death became their driving force behind their funeral practices

Death was simply a temporary interruption, rather than complete cessation, of life, and that eternal life could be ensured by means like piety to the gods, preservation of the physical form through mummification, and the provision of statuary and other funerary equipment” [2] . “The Egyptians believed strongly that after they died, they continued to live on in a different world. This afterlife was a perfect version of life along the Nile River, with an abundance of water, fruit trees, animals to hunt, and especially crops”. Keeping the body as life like as possible became important to the Egyptians with the passage of time. The reasons for preserving the body was related to the transfer to the afterlife in other words the religious beliefs that the Egyptians had about death. The belief centered around “six important aspects that made up a human being: the physical body, shadow, name, ka (spirit), ba (personality), and the akh (immortality). Each one of these elements played an important role in the wellbeing of an individual. Each was necessary to achieve rebirth into the afterlife. The Egyptians also placed focus on deities such as the god of the dead.

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After taking into consideration the various pros and cons of the theories that were presented, it was decided that the best possible theory to explain why the Tomb of Shi Huangdi was created was due to the belief that a person’s possessions can be brought with them into the afterlife. The reason why this theory was chosen is that it simply “fits” with the various items that were found in the tomb. It should be noted that Shi Huangdi is historically known as the Emperor that united the feuding regions of China through the use of military force (Terracotta heroes, 2006). When excavating the tomb, the sheer amount of terracotta soldiers and armaments seems to imply that Shi Huangdi expected to bring his army with him into the afterlife in order to continue his campaign of conquest (Terracotta heroes, 2006)

This is the only plausible explanation as to why the Emperor was buried with so many terracotta soldiers. In support of the theory postulated by Liu et al. (2011), other forms of evidence can be seen in the tombs of Ancient Egyptian Pharaohs (the most famous example is the tomb of Pharaoh Tutankhamen) as well as in other elaborate examples seen from Ancient Mesopotamia, Iraq and Scotland. These locations had evidence showing the belief that the tools and possessions that a person was buried with could be utilized by that individual in their next life. Such a practice is actually not an exclusive practice of early civilizations since the study of Wilson (2007) noted that ancient cavemen were often found buried with the tools that they had apparently utilized. While this does not imply that ancient cavemen had a belief in the afterlife, it does show that the practice of burying a person with their possessions has been around for quite some time and is a plausible explanation for the sheer size and scope of the Tomb of Shi Huangdi.

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Generally speaking, most commonly, their flat undersides were incised with very short inscriptions or with symbols or other images, which had further magical meaning. Scarabs inscribed with the name and title of the owner were often used as a seal by pressing the underside into a lump of clay that would then bear an impression of the incised decoration. Egyptian amulets could be exported, but also locally made amulets in Egyptian style were produced throughout the Mediterranean region. Whether the Egyptian meaning and function of these amulets were shared outside of Egypt can be debated, but clearly they were seen as potent magical objects in other cultures as well.

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Liu, C. Y., Pagán, V., & Liu, N. S. (2011). The Terra Cotta Army of Qin Shi Huang. World Neurosurgery, 75(3/4), 352-353. Web.

Nickel, L. (2013). The First Emperor and sculpture in China. Bulletin Of The School Of Oriental & African Studies, 76(3), 413-447. Web.

Terracotta heroes. (2006). Travel Trade Gazette UK & Ireland, (2731), 14. Web.

Wilson, J. (2007). Mortal combat. New Statesman, 136(4861), 38-41. Web.

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