True or False: Pharaohs Took Servants To Grave?

by , author of Secret of the Egyptian Curse and Mystery of the Egyptian Scroll

Were Egyptian Pharaohs Buried With Servants?

Egyptian ushabti servants
True or False?

True. Did you know that in Ancient Egypt, Pharaohs took over 100 servants with them to the afterlife? Some took one servant for every day of the year. They were buried alongside Pharaohs in their tombs. Sounds creepy, doesn't it?
But if you're thinking they were human servants, don't worry. Except in Egypt's very early days, the servants were actually tiny figurines called ushabti or shabti.

Ancient Egyptians believed that when you died, you went someplace that was a lot like earth. These ushabti figurines were designed to do the work Pharaoh didn't want to do. You know, like bake bread, till the fields, tend the cattle, and all the stuff a person needed to do to eat, drink and live happily ever after.

Generally the figurines were mummy-like in shape. Perhaps this was to match Pharaoh, who was a mummy himself at this point. Another thought is that the mummy design ensured the servant figurines were dead and would go with him.

Each tiny mummy was often carved with extra details to show what his or her job was once they arrived in the afterlife.

When explorers uncovered ancient tombs, they found these ushabti arranged all around the tombs, and often right around the coffins, like hundred of tiny action figures! Imagine what they must have thought, seeing all those tiny soldiers, bakers, cooks, farmers, beer makers, fishermen, boat handlers!

These little action figures were made out of various materials, depending on the tomb; they could be wood, stone, or clay. Whichever material was chosen, they generally matched like a perfect set.

In Tutankhamen's (King Tut's) tomb, however, the ushabti are all different, as if they were taken from other tombs and all mixed up in his. Historians theorize that because the boy king died so young, and his death was unexpected, his ushabti were taken from various collections designed for other people.

Here's part of the magic spell, written inside each tomb, to activate the ushabti:


Egyptian ushabti
Picture of Egyptian Shabti

Spell 6 of 'The Book Of The Dead':

"O Shabti, If 'the deceased' be summoned
To do any work which has to be done in the realm if the dead
To make arable the fields,
To irrigate the land
Or to convey sand from East to West;
"Here I Am", you shall say, "I Shall Do It"