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 In Ancient Egyptian burial it was important that the deceased had a workforce to carry out their every day tasks in the underworld so they would not have to dirty their hands. Originally in high ranking Old Kingdom burials servants were buried with their masters. It is not known if these were sacrifices, or people honored with a resting place beside their King when they died.
This practice died out in later periods and a magical substitute for the servants were included.These included wooden models and stone, wood or faience 'Shabti' figures. It was thought that magic spells would enable these models to come to life and serve the wishes of the deceased.

Shabti figures provided a workforce for use in the afterlife. Some burials contained several hundred figures, often equipped with tools for working the fields. Typically 'Overseer' shabtis were also included to keep the magical workforce in check.

Spell 6 of 'The Book Of The Dead' instructs the Shabti as follows...

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".

The tomb of Tutankhamun contained dozens of Shabti figure, varying greatly is size and detail. The examples shown here are in the Luxor Museum, but in Cairo there are large cabinets containing row after row of these figures.

Many of the Tutankhamun shabtis appear to have different facial features, perhaps adding strength to the theory that the burial provisions were put together from various sources including components intended for someone else, possibly Smenkhkare

Wooden models were included to provide the deceased with provisions in the afterlife. These models typically included butchers, bakers, brewers, boats, livestock and concubines. Many of these survive today. The Royal Museum of Scotland have a complete set of models from the tomb of a lady called Mertetes.


The Ancient Egyptian Book Of The Dead