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Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History
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Winged heart scarab, c. 400-200 BC

Ancient Egyptians believed death marked the beginning of a journey to eternal life.


A successful passage—the hope of every Egyptian—required that the mummified body be placed in a well-equipped tomb, decorated with prayers and images to guide the deceased on the difficult path ahead. If all went well, the deceased would become a spirit in the Green Fields of eternity, while the soul joined the gods as a star in the sky and the mummy lived on in the tomb forever.

Thanks to the remarkable technology of ancient Egypt, many mummies still exist. Modern science is helping us unlock their secrets and learn more about how the Egyptians lived and died.

We're adding new and interesting content here over the coming days so make sure to check back often!



Map of African Continent indicating the location of modern Egypt

A map of modern Egypt shows Lake Nasser, created by construction of the Aswan High Dam in 1958-71.

In ancient times, the river ran freely from its headwaters in the Ethiopian highlands and Lake Victoria, and flowed into a single channel near modern-day Khartoum, Sudan. At the Delta, the Nile branched into many more offshoots than exist today, enriching the land for agriculture and settlements.

The map includes both modern and ancient place names as well as the locations of important historical sites.

click and drag the magnifying glass over the image to view details

Map of Egypt's Nile Valley indicating modern sites, archaeological sites and oases.

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