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Lesson Plans

Re: HELP! Egyptian history

[ Thread ][ Subject ][ Author ][ Date ]
Ruth Voyles (rvoyles)
Thu, 17 Oct 1996 23:07:32 -0500 (EST)

Hi 'Leni:

Maybe I can help with some of these...

1. There were differences between the concept of the Ba and the Ka. The
more important of the two "spirits" that lived on after the individual's
death was the Ka. This was thought of as the soul which inhabited the
body, a sort of a "spirit" body double. The Ka was the person's life
force, believed to be created at birth and released from the body after
death. The ka had to have a place to reside after the individual's death,
and for that reason the body was mummified to provide the ka with an eternal
home. It was the ka that would return to the body after death to reanimate
it. It was for the ka that statues of the deceased were made and placed in
tombs. That way if something unspeakable happened and the body was not
preserved, the ka would have the statue to inhabit and thus live on.

The ba was more like our concept of a soul. It was believed that the ba
could and did leave the body and travel. Hence, the ba is depicted as a
hawk with the head of a man. However, it was important that both the ba
and the ka be reunited with the body in order for the
individual to live on. In the Egyptian book of the dead at least one of
the spells is to insure that the ba returns to the mummified body.

2. According to Janson's History of Art, while the step pyramid and the
ziggurat appear to be similar, the ziggurat differs from the step pyramid in
both form and function. The word ziggurat derives from the Assyrian
"zigguratu" which translates as mountaintop or height. In ancient
Babylonia and Assyria, the ziggurat formed the base of a temple
complex. It was constructed of mud brick and made a sort of tower which
was either stepped or because of a broad ascent which wound around the
tower gave the appearance of being stepped. The ziggurat was not used
for burial purposes, and all religious activities took place in the
temple at the top of the tower. The step pyramid, really a series of
mastabas, set one on top of the other, was a tomb for a pharaoh and meant to
insure the pharaoh's place in the afterlife, although it is not clear
exactly how the pyramid did so. In the case of the step pyramid at
Saqqara, the actual tomb was cut deep into the rock beneath the

Hope this is helpful,

Ruth Voyles
Art Educator
The Toledo Museum of Art
The University of Toledo
On Thu, 17 Oct 1996 ELENI53 wrote:

> I am in the process of helping the editor revise some of the information for
> my book "Art and Archaeology" and we came up with 3 questions:
> 1) Is there a difference between the Egyptian concept of the Ba and the Ka?
> Are they both the spirits which travel around during the afterlife, or does
> only one or the other do the traveling? Are they both the same? If different
> How?
> 2) How are ziggurats and step pyramids different? The ziggurat, developed in
> Mesopotamia looks very similar outwardly. Are there difference in the
> interior of the structure and/or its use?
> 3) Who first used the potters' wheel Sumerians or Chinese? and when was the
> high-fired kiln developed and by whom?
> I'd appreciate replies as soon as possible... Thanks 'Leni