"Awake!..May you be alert as a living one, rejuvenated every day, healthy in millions of occasions of god sleep, while the gods protect you, protection being around you every day." - Ancient Egyptian Hymn
A sarcophagus is a stone coffin that is often associated with the royalty and El-ite of ancient Egypt, Crete, Greece and Rome. The meaning of the word comes to us from Greek sarkophagos ‘flesh-consuming’, from sarx, sark- ‘flesh’ + -phagos ‘-eating.’
The ancient Egyptians excelled in both the immortal art of embalming and preserving their dead bodies in eternal stone coffins. They believed in the immortality of the soul. As did many cultures all around the world and even to this very day. I believe this art and these religious ceremonies first originated in ancient Egypt and then spread into Crete, Greece, Italy, and then many other places all around the world. Even some of the church fathers and saints were entombed in their own immortal stone coffins. Evidence of these facts can be found in all these exact locations that have been documented by archaeologists over the last few hundred years.
Many of these ancient stone coffins were primarily built out of high alkaline stones such as limestone, marble and granite for two reasons. One being that they would help preserve the body against decay, and also the immortal properties of the stone which if left untouched, can last forever. This decay I speak of is mainly attributed to the flesh consuming worms that eat away the corpse and bones when a human leaves to the nether world. Worms simply do not like limestone and granite. Our ancient ancestors had realized this thousands of years ago, and this is why they had chosen to not only be buried in these type of stone coffins, but they also built many of their ancient structures out of limestone such as the pyramids.
These stone coffins were also normally decorated, and often had hieroglyphs and or texts etched into them which are said to assist the departed spirits in the nether world. In Egypt, you will find on the sides of each sarcophagus that judgment is almost always represented with Osiris as a judge, wrapped in the cerements of a mummy. We can see many of these coffins may also have an image of the deceased when they were living, with a detailed head and pair of eyes painted on the outside of the coffin to possibly enable them to see the outside world or the underworld.
Religious texts from funeral rites were etched on the interior sides of sarcophagus, and the inside of the coffin often contained excerpts of text from the Book of the Dead. Some have sculptured figures showing the little soul perched on top the sarcophagus, touching the mummy, and bidding it farewell before rising to the gods.
Many of these stone coffins have some of the most beautiful stone work that you will ever see, such as the Portonaccio Sarcophagus from Rome that is over 1800 years old and pictured below. It was first discovered in 1931 near Via Tiburtina, and experts believe it is the sarcophagus for Aulus Iulius Pompilius. He was an official of Marcus Aurelius who was in control of two squadrons of cavalry which were on detachment legions for the duration of the war against the Marcomanni (172-175 AD). It is now housed in the National Museum of Rome.
Here is a more close up image:
And another showing the beautiful detail that the artists had accomplished:
The sarcophagus was also used for initiations such as the Secret Mysteries of Isis which were three-day rituals that we can say are out of body experiences where they had reached illumination. These rites we may find depicted in The Book of the Dead, showing these ceremonies such as the Opening the Mouth Ritual of Osiris where it is said, ""O Osiris the King, I split open your mouth for you gods iron of Upper Egypt; gods iron of Lower Egypt."
Many of the ancient Egyptian Pharaohs, prophets and scribes of the priesthood were known as the "Twice Born Ones." This term would relate to their secret rites of immortality in which the sarcophagus would play a large role in these rites.
According to 33rd Degree Freemason, Manly P. Hall, "the illuminated of antiquity passed through the mystic passageways and chambers of the Great Pyramid, entering its portal as men and coming forth as [Twice Born] gods.
The candidate was laid in the great stone coffin, and for three days his spirit—freed from his mortal coil—wandered at the gateways of eternity. His Ka, [or soul] as a bird, flew through the spiritual spheres of space. He discovered that all the universe was life, all the universe was progress, all the universe was eternal growth. Realizing that his body was a house which he could slip out of and return to without [physical] death, he achieved actual immortality.
At the end of three days he returned to himself again, and having thus personally and actually experienced the great mystery, he was indeed an Initiate [of the Twice Born]—one who beheld and one to whom religion had fulfilled her duty bringing him to the light of God.
Today we can witness these rites because they were one of the only cultures in the world who were able to accomplish preserving their dead Pharaohs and other bodies for thousands of years. Essentially, they were masters of the art of immortality, and also fighting the worms which infest us humans to this day and consume our mortal bodies when we die.
“The mortal worm might make the sleep eternal.” - Shakespeare
The worm is mentioned on the the Sarcophagus of Ānchnesrāneferȧb, Queen of Ȧḥmes II, King of Egypt: "She is the examiner great in Sesu, Let not enter the mouth of worm any biting into her, protected is the divine spouse Anynesraneferab Pi-Mentu triumphant from the mouth of worm every biting just as is protected Ram from his enemies."
In The Ancient Egyptian Pyramid Texts, part of Hymn 412 reads:
O! flesh of the King, do not decay, do not rot, do not smell unpleasant. Your foot will not be over passed, your stride will not be over stridden, shall not tread on the corruption of Osiris. You shall reach the sky as Orion, your soul shall be as effective as Sothis; have power, having power; be strong, having strength; may your soul stand among the gods as Horus who dwells Irw. May the terror of you come into being in the hearts of the gods the Nt-crown which is on the King of Lower Egypt, like the Mizwt-crown which is on the King of Upper Egypt, like the tress which is on the vertex of the Mntw-tribesmen. You shall lay hold of the hand of the Imperishable Stars, your bones shall not perish, your flesh shall not sicken, O! King, your members shall not be far from you, because you are one of the gods.
The sarcophagus of Ashmanasar II., king of Sidon (son of Tennes), found at Tyre in 1855, said to be from approximately 11th c. B.C. has the text:
"In the month of Bui, in the 14th year that I reigned, king Ashmanasar, king of the Sidonians, son of king Tebnith, king of the Sidonians—spake king Ashmanasar, king of the Sidonians, saying: Carried away before my time, in the flood of days—in dumbness ceases the son of gods. Dead do I lie in this tomb, in the grave, on the place which I have built. I myself ordain that all the nobles and all the people shall not open this place of rest; they shall not seek for treasures and not carry away the sarcophagus of my resting place, and not disturb me by mounting the couch of my slumbers.
If people should speak to thee [and persuade thee to the contrary], do not listen to them. For all the nobles and all the people who shall open this sarcophagus of the place of rest, or carry away the sarcophagus of my couch, or disturb me upon this resting-place, may they find no rest with the departed; may they not be buried in a tomb, and may no son and successor live after them in their place, etc.
The Freemasons are illuminated to these immortal stone secrets. For example, the White House is built mainly of Limestone and the first President and Freemason, Bro George Washington was also buried in a sarcophagus. His immortalized body was said to be perfectly preserved several decades after his death:
We may mention that the sarcophagus which contains the remains of Washington, was presented by Mr. Strothers, a Philadelphia marble-cutter. The lid is a slab of fine marble, ornamented with a most exquisite device in relief on its surface. A legend, doubtless the offspring of some creative imagination, which went the rounds of the public prints, detailed certain strange circumstances connected with the removal of the body.
It was said that Mr. Strothers, when the old covering was taken from the coffin containing the remains, was permitted to unscrew the lid of this inmost receptacle, and to look upon the dead. The body, we were told, was in perfect preservation; the face, untouched by corruption or decay, was lighted up with a benignant smile, as, if unagitated by any pang or uneasiness of death, the soul had but a moment since plumed it for its distant flight, and the body but just settled to its long repose.