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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Osiris and the Deceased


For the Egyptians, the god Osiris provided a model whereby the effects of the rupture caused by death could be totally reversed, since that deity underwent a twofold process of resurrection. Mummification reconstituted his “corporeal” self and justification against Seth his “social” self, re-integrating him and restoring his status among the gods. Through the mummification rites, which incorporated an assessment of the deceased’s character, the Egyptians hoped to be revived and justified like Osiris. These rites endowed them with their own personal Osirian aspect or form, which was a mark of their status as a member of the god’s entourage in the underworld. Thus the deceased underwent a twofold resurrection as well. Not only were their limbs reconstituted, and mental and physical faculties restored, but they entered into a personal relationship with Osiris that simultaneously situated them within a group.

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