When it comes to burying their dead Egyptians have always had their own distinctive style. Pharaohs used to be buried in crypts surrounded with all their wealth and even food, believing that even the dead would be resurrected where they died they put in a lot of effort making sure that they’d come back to find things the same way they left it. Even after Egypt took up Islam-which mandates that dead bodies should be buried in unmarked graves (lahd)- Egyptians retained their own burial method which became a fusion between Islamic and Pharaonic rituals, little has changed since then.
Every family in Egypt rich or pool, big or small owns their own mausoleum, located in various cemeteries surrounding every city in Egypt, some cemeteries are as old Cairo its self (protected by law they are almost impossible to demolish or move). You can tell how long a family has been living in a certain town by the location of their mausoleum, If you’ve ever been to Cairo you must have seen them all around town, since the town has grown several times engulfing the cemeteries that used to be on the outskirts of the city 100s of years ago. Unless you are Egyptian most probably you’ve never been into one, in this post i’m going to walk you through their interior layout, they are built to be maintenance free and elements proof.
When you walk into the building usually there is a small cactus garden, surrounded by benches built into the wall, on the right there is a small room also with benches built into its walls, the room has no glasses or even a door (as they wouldn’t survive the test of time. The interior walls are usually covered in sandstone or limestone, mainly materials that belong to the surrounding environment and would require no maintenance. there is a small dirt covered area in the center which covers the tiles leading to the underground crypt. When someone is to be buried the dirt patch is dug up (around 10cm of dirt) and the tiles are removed, revealing the stairs leading down. The stairs lead into a narrow hall with sand covered floor, with two sealed doors, the first is usually the room men are buried in, the second is for women. Apparently cause men shouldn’t pass by women, which shows how Egyptians don’t really believe in death makes us any less human, proper manners should be followed even if we are talking about a room full of dead bodies. The room is opened is the dead body is laid next to the dead bodies already in the room, the face is revealed and a hand full of sand is thrown over the white cloth surrounding the body. If the room is full, the dead bodies are covered with sand and you have an empty burial crypt all over again. Once the dead body is placed in the room, the door is sealed again with blocks of stone and then covered with cement thus sealing the room again.
I’ve been down once and its quite serene down there, its like you disconnect from the whole world, complete silence and serenity like nothing I’ve experienced before. Nothing but the light bulb leading up stairs connects you to reality, otherwise its a completely different universe. Knowing that most of your ancestors have been to this room dead or alive gives you that feeling that can’t be transcribed into words.