Ancient Egyptian Cultures And Religions

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					Ancient Egyptian Cultures And Religion

 Ancient criminal justice practices have made a huge impact on the ways
and methods of our current courts systems and criminal justice program. A
study of Ancient Egyptian culture and life styles give a better
understanding of the origin of our court systems as they are ran now. The
era in which King Bocchoris and King Menes survived contains an important
link to current criminal justice. Although the Egyptian society was an
ancient one, their approach to court systems is very similar to the
current ones. Religion, Origin, Egyptian laws, and court systems have all
been addressed.
Literature Review
Ancient Egyptian legends say that some of the most famous gods in Egypt
were first Egyptian kings. It is still unknown if these "gods" or "kings"
actually existed in human form or if they were rather a spiritual being.
According to most sources, history dates back to Menes being the first
King of Egypt. Therefore, he was the first to rule over the unified
northern and southern Egypt. There is little archeological proof that
Menes actually did reign over Egypt, but the time of his rule would have
been around 3100 BC. It has also been stated that perhaps King Menes
didn't exist but rather was many rulers composed into one being.
King Menes was said to stay mostly in the lower part of Egypt because
this was a more civilized area of his dominion. King Menes built his
capital, Memphis, in lower Egypt. Although Menes dwelt in lower Egypt, he
built his tomb near Abydos. Abydos was an older city in the upper region
of Egypt.
King Menes built his tomb in an archeological fashion that had never
before been seen. Rather than made of stone, King Menes crafted his tomb
of complete bricks that would eventually incase his body. After walls and
walls of bricks were compiled, a wood fire was set over the temple. This
has been thought to have hardened the King's life long tomb and prepared
it for him. King Menes' methods appeared to have been effective
considering that his body lay there for over six thousand years
completely untouched.
Many things, including the construction of his tomb and capital, proved
Menes to be and expert builder. Menes was so advanced that in order to
secure a proper place for his capital, he changed many geographical
things. First, he constructed an unrealistically large dam which changed
the complete flow of the lower Nile. He was able to move the river miles
from the point where it had originally flowed. According to legends,
Menes reigned over Egypt for sixty-two years before he died in an alleged
combat with a hippopotamus. It is unknown to date whether the
hippopotamus was real or used as an ancient expression. In Ancient Egypt
the hippopotamus was a symbol of a foreign foe. It is believed by many
that Menes died defending the great empire he had created and loved.
In the eyes of an Egyptian, death was a pleasant transition to a better
life in the next world. Full Egyptian potential was believed to only be
capable after death. It was said that each person had not one, but three
souls. (The ka, ba, and akh) Egypt's entire civilization based themselves
among religion. Religious beliefs were very important to the Egyptian
people. A strong belief in rebirth after death drove Egyptians to their
drawn out funeral practices.
Embalming became a large activity in the Ancient Egyptian era. After
someone had passed away and the priest had spoken prayers and tried to
revive the body one last time, the body would then be washed and
purified. The purification took place in a small shelter known as an ibu.
The body would then be transported to the embalmer. The embalmer's work
area was known as the Wabet. All of the organs would then be removed and
stored in containers. The body would be filled with sawdust and natron,
or salt. The mummification process would then take place. This included
wrapping the body with bandages and strategically placing elaborate
jewelry between the layers. After that a mask would be placed over the
After the embalming and mummification, the body was placed in and
elaborate coffin. An abundance of items, useful for the after life, were
placed in the tomb with the mummy. The priest performed one last ritual,
which was the most important of all, to bring back speaking ability and
enable the dead to eat. After all of this had been done, the tomb was
finally sealed never to be entered again.
Egyptians guided every moment of their lives on their religious beliefs.
Egyptian religion involved worshipping man deities. Their religion was
thought to be based on polytheism. There were as many as two thousand
gods and goddesses to worship in Egyptian religion. Gods were often
thought to be partially human and part animal.
The sky god, Horus, had a normal human body, but the head of a hawk.
Certain animals, including bull, cat, and crocodile, were also thought to
be holy to the Egyptians. Although they worshipped thousands of gods, two
main gods existed, Amon-Ra and Osiris. Stories of Osiris were centered
around the thought of immortality. Egyptians had so much of a focus on an
afterlife that they spent much of their time and wealth preparing for.
Temples, dwelling places for gods, were in great abundance in Egypt. A
special temple was built in each city for the city's god to dwell there.
The temples were supposed to be a way for men to make communication with
their gods. Great temples began to be equipped with tombs, also, as the
priests became more dominant and powerful over the cities.
Ancient Egyptian Law
Egyptian law was thought to be based on a common sense view of right and
wrong. Egyptian law was said to follow the codes of Ma'at, which
represented order, truth, balance, and justice for the entire universe.
This permitted everyone to be viewed equally under Egyptian law,
excluding slaves. Money or social standings didn't matter in Egyptian
law. There was a downside to this, however. When someone was found guilty
in Egyptian law, their whole family was often punished and forced to
suffer as well.
Criminal Law
In Ancient Egyptian law, one of the worse crimes was thought to be tomb
robbing. The punishment for stolen goods would be to simply return the
items and also receive a fine that would often double the value of the
stolen items. Corporal punishment may have involved up to a hundred
strokes from a cane. In a much worse case, five bleeding cuts may be
added or the criminal may be branded. The brand would serve as a
permanent display of disobedience and dishonor.
The punishment for the most serious criminal cases may be decided by the
Pharaoh himself. Mutilation served as punishment for some crimes. This
included cutting off body parts such as, a hand, nose, ear, or tongue.
Capital punishment, the most severe cases, consisted of burning alive,
decapitation, or drowning. Although Egyptian punishments seemed very
harsh, Pharaoh Bocchoris supported basic human rights and even settled on
imprisonment in place of debts.
Egyptian Court Systems
The history of the Egyptian law stretched longer than any other
civilization. The ultimate decision maker in any argument or dispute was
the Pharaoh. The Pharaoh would then delegate powers to governors and
other officials. Pharaohs, such as Bocchoris (722 - 715BC) became thought
of and addressed as lawgivers. The vizier directed all administrative
branches of the government and was next only to the Pharaoh. Part of the
vizier's legal duties included appointing magistrates and sitting in
judgment of court cases.
Legal Proceeding
The plaintiff was said to first bring suit. The defendant would then be
ordered to appear in court. Procedural information was provided by legal
system employed scribes. Both parties would speak for themselves and were
required to bring any evidence that would defend themselves. The judge
usually ruled on the basis of evidence brought and on hearing both
parties, but occasionally witnesses were brought forward.
Criminal justice made a beginning in the judicial system. Judgment
depended upon the harshness of the charge. The most heinous of crimes
could only be judged by the pharaoh. Often, viziers would conduct the
investigation and then proceed with the final judgment from the pharaoh.
On rare occasions, a special commission would be appointed by the
Pharaoh. This commission would have full access to judgment. Penal
servitude and execution were often punishment for serious crimes while
mutilation and flogging were used for a lesser punishment.
United States Court Systems
The United States has many court systems including federal, state, and
supreme. There are three separate branches; Judicial, legislative, and
executive. The United States supreme court is made up of the United
States courts systems involve a judge, the jury, the opposing parties
involved, witnesses, and a lawyer or attorney to defend each party. This
court system has many similar concepts of the Egyptian court systems. For
example, instead of a Pharaoh to decide each punishment, there is now a
judge. Rather than a scribe to help decide punishments, there is the jury
who will listen to both sides and help render a punishment. Although
judgment of innocence is still ultimately up to the judge of the court.
In Ancient Egypt, things were thought of very differently and a large
emphasis was placed on religion and death. Most Egyptians spent their
entire lives trying to prepare themselves for death and a possible after
life. The Ancient Egyptians had a sturdy system of laws set and a well-
organized court system functioning. Egyptian court systems, I found in my
research, are very comparative to the court systems that the United
States currently has in place. A thorough research and analysis of this
time era could bring a better understanding of our law system's origin to
criminal justice students.

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