N.B. Discrepancies remain over the exact dates of the various periods, depending on the sources consulted.
These dates represent the most typical.
ANCIENT EGYPTIAN GLOSSARY
Amulet A small charm, believed to have magical powers. They were worn as jewellery or wrapped in the bandages of mummies to protect its wearer from evil. Afterlife A place that the Ancient Egyptians believed the soul of a person would go to, after their body had died, in order to live on forever in a second life.
Archaeologist A person who responsibly excavates records and studies ancient ruins and remains.
Book of the Dead A book of about 200 spells and prayers to help the dead person in the Afterlife.
Canopic Jar A container that held the preserved internal organs (stomach, liver, intestines and lungs) of a dead person. These jars had special lids that were carved to look either like human heads or like the heads of the Four Sons of the god Horus – falcon, baboon, jackal and human.
Chamber A small room, as found in a pyramid or tomb.
Crook and flail Symbols of the god Osiris, often shown held in his hands. Also used by pharaohs, and frequently painted on royal mummy cases.
Egyptology The study of everything connected with Ancient Egypt.
Embalmer A person involved in the treatment and preservation of dead bodies before burial so that they do not rot away.
Faience A type of pottery made from or glazed with a mix of powdered quartz in various shades of blue and green.
Hieroglyphs A type of writing used in Ancient Egypt that was made up of tiny pictures and symbols. The term comes from a Greek word and means ‘sacred writing’. It was used in temples, tombs, statues and on papyrus.
Jackal A wild dog found living in Africa and Asia, many of which were common in Egypt in ancient times.
Ka The soul or spirit of a person that the Egyptians believed could live on after the body had died.
Mummy A preserved body, made either by natural processes (extreme cold or dry heat) or deliberately by humans. The term comes from an Arabic word ‘mummiya’ meaning bitumen or pitch, once thought to have been used to help preserve bodies.
Natron A natural mineral salt, found in ancient Egypt in dried up lakebeds, used to dry out the body in the mummification process.
Necropolis An area where dead bodies were embalmed and buried usually found on the west bank of the River Nile. From a Greek word meaning ‘city of the dead’.
Opening the Mouth A special ceremony during the ancient Egyptian burial service that involved touching the mummy with a special tool to symbolically open the mouth, in order that the mummy could breath and talk and walk again in the Afterlife.
Pharaoh A king or ruler of Ancient Egypt.
Pyramid A large, square-based, pointed stone monument marking the tomb of a pharaoh.
Sarcophagus A large stone box, rectangular or mummiform in shape, in which a coffin was placed.
Scarab A type of dung beetle that was sacred to the Ancient Egyptians because they thought it represented rebirth after death.
Shabti A small figure in the shape of a mummified person, usually made of faience or stone. Placed in tombs and in mummy wrappings they were thought to act as servants or little helpers in the Afterlife. Also known as ushabti.