Ancient Egyptians were indeed great thinkers. They were a sophisticated civilization. More sophisticated than we imagine probably. They were the inventors and the scientists.
Ancient Egyptians were also very religious people. They also believed in the afterlife. And they took the thoughts of the afterlife more seriously than do people today.
The first thought of a king, when he took his position, was how to begin his tomb construction. The great pyramids are, in fact, just huge tombs. Pharoes took many years to prepare a tomb that would have everything he might need in the afterlife.
At feasts a slave might carry around a corpse. He would walk around showing it to every guest present and say, "Take a look at this, then eat and drink, and remember that one day you will be in its place".
A favorite song of the ancient Egyptians was called "Lay of Harper", which is essentially about how life's pilgrimage will soon end, and everyone will pass to another world.
Ancient Egyptian culture, however, was not all about waiting for death to come. As much as they were preparing for death, they prayed to their gods to preserve their lives and give them a happy old age.
They sang, and drank, and danced, and traveled into the country. Nobility found enjoyment in hunting and fishing. Fun was allowed entrance even into the tombs. Professors had a hard time curbing the behavior of their students. When lectures on good behavior failed to help, professors had to resort to the use of canes for discipline.
The Nile would be covered with traveling boat mega-parties. Thousands of men, women, and children would crowd into boats and sail from one city to another, men playing the pipes, women clapping. As they passed from town to town along the banks of the river, they would stop at various landing places and challenge inhabitants to some coarse language contests.
From monuments we see that songs accompanied men's labor in the fields. Evidences of humour can be seen in caricatures on ancient egyptian papyruses.
So, such was the double-sided ancient Egyptian culture, part serious, part light-hearted.
Rawlinson, George, and Arthur Gilman. Ancient Egypt,. London: T. Fisher Unwin, 1887. Print.
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