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Abeja Dispatch

December 1, 1999
The Children of the Dead

Egyptians view death differently than Americans do. For one thing, everyone who can afford it is buried under a huge, carved "mastaba." A mastaba is a tombstone as big as your dining room table and made of solid stone! Really rich people are buried in mausoleums, which are more like houses than tombs.

Click image for larger view

The family mausoleum has many rooms, including sleeping areas. These aren't for when the dead come back to life. They are for when the living people come to visit the dead. Families often go to the cemetery on weekends and holidays. They go there to show respect for their loved ones. They often have a picnic there, and sometimes they spend the night there, too.

Click image
for larger view

In Cairo there is a neighborhood called the City of the Dead. There are lots of mastabas and mausoleums there. In Cairo there are not enough houses for all of the people. So some living people now live in the City of the Dead.

I met an old woman who lives in the City of the Dead. She has a little graveyard in her backyard. She is very proud of it. She keeps it very neat and tidy. What would it be like if you had a graveyard in your backyard?


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