Living with the Dead presents a detailed analysis of ancestor worship in Egypt, using a diverse range of material, both archaeological and anthropological, to examine the relationship between the living and the dead. Iconography and terminology associated with the deceased reveal indistinct differences between the blessedness and malevolence and that the potent spirit of the dead required constant propitiation in the form of worship and offerings. A range of evidence is presented for mortuary cults that were in operation throughout Egyptian history and for the various places, such as the house, shrines, chapels and tomb doorways, where the living could interact with the dead. The private statue cult, where images of individuals were venerated as intermediaries between people and the Gods is also discussed. Collective gatherings and ritual feasting accompanied the burial rites with separate, mortuary banquets serving to maintain ongoing ritual practices focusing on the deceased. Something of a contradiction in attitudes is expressed in the evidence for tomb robbery, the reuse of tombs and funerary equipment and the ways in which communities dealt with the death and burial of children and others on the fringe of society.
Chapter 1: the nature of the deceased Characteristics of and terminology relating to the dead Constituent elements of the dead Iconography: distinguishing the dead from the living The malevolent dead Conclusion Chapter 2: the cult of the ancestors Mortuary cult and society Evidence for mortuary cult Conclusions Chapter 3: places of interaction with the dead Houses Tombs/Tomb chapels Shrines and chapels Temples Conclusions Chapter 4: times of interaction between the living and the dead: funerals, festivals, and banquets Funerals Festivals and Banquets Conclusions Chapter 5: attitudes to the dead Commemoration of ancestors and the maintenance of cults: ideals and realities Tomb robbery, the desecration of human remains, damnatio memoriae, and fear of the deceased: conflict between the living and the dead Placing the dead within the landscape Reuse of tombs, cemeteries and funerary equipment: prioritising the living over the dead? Tomb graffiti: form and function The death and burial of children: an example of attitudes to those on the fringes of society Conclusions Chapter 6 Conclusions: living with the dead in Ancient Egypt