Ancient Egypt for Kids
In ancient Egypt, people were not afraid of their gods or of their highly respected priests. The temples were places where religious ceremonies were held. They were also schools, universities, libraries, and centers of administration, workshops, farms and granaries.
The Egyptians loved their animal headed gods. They did not find them frightening. They found them comforting. The ancient Egyptians treated their gods almost as one of the family.
Home Life: Priests were married. They had families. They worked in the fields. They tended the beehives. They made daily rounds of the people who could not come to the temple because of illness or age.
The Daily Rite: One of the most important jobs of the priests was the Daily Rite. In the capital, and in every temple along the Nile, the Daily Rite was performed. Here’s how it worked: There was a door into the shrine where the statue of the god was displayed. At night, the door was closed and a clay seal was fixed to the door. In the morning, accompanied by assistant priests and women singers, the clay seal was broken and the door was opened. The main priest removed the statue from the shrine and offered it offered it food, just as a child would pretend to feed a doll. They robed it in royal clothes, and rouged its cheeks. The statue was replaced in the shrine. The door to the shrine was sealed again and everyone left the room walking backwards, sweeping a wide palm leaf over the floor, to remove any footprints they might have made on the sandy floor.
Funerals: The priests were responsible for the process of getting bodies ready to move on to the afterlife. They conducted the burial ceremonies and the procession to the tomb. At the tomb, the priests were also responsible for the opening of the mouth ceremony. This is the ceremony that the ancient Egyptians believed would restore the deceased ability to eat and drink in the afterlife.
Father to Son: It was not easy to become a priest. Like other jobs in ancient Egypt, the priesthood was handed down from father to son. But you still had to go to school in the House of Life and graduate. The Houses of Life were education centers in all the larger cities.