Ancient Egypt was largely an agricultural society. At the time the pyramid texts were written, the Nile flooded annually from July to November, providing a rich silt for farmer's crops (Denault 2). Red barley, white wheat, fruit and vegetables were the people's main staples. They also grew trees, barley, beans, chickpeas and flax. In addition, Egyptians raised cattle and oxen which they ate along with geese and fish (Carpenter et al. 2). We can see from tomb illustrations that Egyptians saw a strong correlation between their everyday lives and heaven, by the fact that they are shown performing their daily activities in the presence of neteru, or gods. They perceived no difference between the sacred and the mundane (Gadalla 1-2). By 3100 BCE (Before Common Era), Egyptians adopted the means of Pharaohs as governance. These hereditary rulers were believed to be "the sons of Ra" (Stone 1).

Horus and Isis protecting Osiris Women and men in ancient Egypt were treated equally. Women were respected for their motherly and reproductive roles and central to the sustenance of society. Gods and goddesses were worshipped in separate temples, although goddesses were often shown as protectors of male deities in the form of lionesses, or shown with or as cobras or vultures (Stone 3). Isis, the symbolic mother goddess of ancient Egypt and her son Horus are often depicted as Osiris' protector, shown behind him as he sits on the throne.

The Egyptian alphabet was a visual one, based on symbols which each have a picture that represented a sound. It was based on 42 hieroglyphics, some of which were used interchangably. This written language was formed around 3100 BCE, the same time the Pharaohs began to rule, and it lasted until 400 CE, at which time Egypt adopted Coptic, a Greek-based alphabet, and then Arabic (Denault 5).

Ancient Egypt was not based on a set of strict religious beliefs, their ideology was more of a "cult" with regular "practices," duties performed to maintain the favor of the gods. These took place at centers of worship and focused on an "image" of the god, a statue to which they performed sacrifices and rites (Monet 1-5). More will be discussed about Egyptian beliefs concerning the soul and afterlife in the "Heaven" and "Underworld" sections.

Carpenter, Chris, Jennifer Taylor, Kathleen Strachan. "Geography and Agriculture: The Ancient Egyptian Culture Exhibit." Minnesota State University E-Museum. 2003. emuseum/prehistory/egypt/dailylife/geographyandagricultre.html

Denault, Leight. "Life in Ancient Egypt: An Online Resource for Students." 2003.

Gadalla, Moustafa. "Egyptians: The Most Religious." Tehuti Research Foundation. 2004.

Monet, Jefferson. "Tour Egypt Feature: An Overview of the Ancient Egyptian Cult." InterCity Oz. 2003.

Stone, Barry. "The Deities of Egypt: History and Philosophy of the Ancient and Modern World." 2004.