False doors in ancient Egyptian tombs were “gates to communicate with the gods”

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(ORDO NEWS) — One of the most common elements that can be found when visiting ancient Egyptian tombs is “false doors”, also known as “Ka doors”.

As the name suggests, these doors lead nowhere. These are imaginary passages for Ka (element “soul”) between the world of the living and spirits and deities.

The deity or the deceased could interact with the world of the living by passing through the door or receiving offerings through it.

This is why it is very common to find these false passages on the sides of tombs in royal and non-royal tombs from the Old Kingdom of Egypt.

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It is believed that false doors appeared in the fourth millennium BC in Mesopotamia and were later adopted by the builders of Ancient Egypt.

They were common elements in the temples of Egypt during the New Kingdom period. In addition, they were often associated with the chapel known as the “ear of hearing”, which was usually located in the outer wall at the back of the temple next to the sanctuary.

Interestingly, according to ancient records, these chapels allowed those outside the temple to communicate directly with the gods, who could hear them through a false door.

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However, most false doors are found in tombs and tomb temples to allow the deceased to enter the world of the living and receive offerings.

Before the appearance of the first pyramid, the Egyptians built mastabas (tombs) for the dead.

Outside, they are pyramid-shaped, and inside they contain underground burial chambers with several other rooms. Basically, only rich and noble people could afford such cameras.

In addition to the mummy, the embalmed body, they placed one or more statues depicting the deceased. The first false doors began to appear in Egyptian tombs during the Third Dynasty of the Old Kingdom.

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The typical false door had a long, narrow, recessed panel that represented a real doorway. Above it was a semi-cylindrical molding, which was a reed mat, usually used to close a real door.

False doors were often made from a solid piece of thin limestone, which was then often painted red with black spots.

Typically, the false door was located on the western wall of the sacrificial chamber at the back of the tomb, as the west was associated with death and the afterlife.

The tomb had two false doors, one for the owner and one for his wife.

Each architectural element in ancient Egypt had a specific reason, which was associated with a belief system in the structure of the world, both mortal and dead.

The ancient Egyptians firmly believed that death was not the end of human existence. The systematic organization of the tomb of the deceased depicted the process of the afterlife.

For example, on the false door of Anchires it is written:

“Scribe of the House of God’s Documents, Head of Anubis, Follower of the Great One, Follower of Tientet, Anchires.”

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The jumper says:

“This was done for him by his eldest son, the priest-lecturer Medunefer.”

On the left and right outer jambs is written:

“An offering to the king and to Anubis, who dwells in the divine tent-sanctuary, is given for burial in the west, well aged.

It was his eldest son, the priest-lecturer Medunefer, who acted on his behalf when he was buried in the necropolis. Scribe of the house of documents of the god , Anchires”.

The false door was built from a single piece of thin limestone, painted red with black flecks to resemble granite.

Sometimes they looked like a flat rectangular image on the wall, but more often they were designed to resemble a real door that closes tightly.

Sometimes the false door was made of wood (for example, in the tomb of Khesir) or was simply a design drawn on the flat surface of the inner wall.

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Interestingly, sometimes in ancient Egyptian tombs a small hidden chamber was built, known as a “serdab”, in which a statue of the deceased Ka was placed.

There were no passages in this chamber, only holes were left for Ka’s eyes so that he could watch how the relatives of the deceased make offerings to him.

The tradition of false doors was not limited to the ancient Egyptians, but was adopted by other ancient civilizations as well.

They have also been found in the tombs of the island of Sardinia. The Etruscans also practiced decorating burial chambers with false doors.

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Another example of false doors outside of Egypt is the mysterious “Gate of the Gods” located in the mountainous region of Hayu Marcha in Peru.

There is a legend according to which “long ago, great heroes left to join their gods and passed through this gate for a new glorious life in immortality.”

On rare occasions, these people would return for a short time with their gods to “survey all the lands of the kingdom”.


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