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What happened to Pharaoh's servants after his death?
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 19, 2006 11:15 pm 
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Sorry to be a bother. I have been searching in utter vain for anything discussing the fate of a Pharaoh's servants in the vent of the death of Pharaoh. I'm trying to help my 11 year old daughter for a school project.

I was always under the belief that they were killed and entombed with the pharaoh. Of course, this knowledge is questionable as I beleive the source was more than likely, Hollywood.

My 6th grade daughter is pretty distraught in that she can find no reference to the fate of the servants on the internet. I have tried myself for several hours with equally empty results. This forum seems to be full of folks that may know the answer to this probably all too trivial question.

If so, could you please point me in the right direction?


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 20, 2006 4:11 am 
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It is thought that in pre-dynastic times and early dynastic times, servants to a pharaoh may have been killed when the pharaoh died, in order to continue to serve him in the afterlife. This is in no way certain though, because these particular discoveries containing the likely bodies of servants are all skeletons and don't seem to have died from injuries so, it could be that they chose to take their own lives to be with their master.
Early in ancient Egyptian history, the afterlife was only reserved for royalty or people of exteme wealth that could afford a magnificent burial including mummfication, spells and prayers etc, so commiting suicide to be interred beside the king would've been the only forseeable way for servants to make it into the afterllife, which means that it was highly possible that this was considered a respectable way to die.
However, if it is correct that these servants were killed in order to continue their service into the afterlife (probably by forced ingestion of poison), it was a practise that didn't last very long. Instead of servants being interred with a pharaoh upon his death, he was burried with Shabti's, which were believed to magically come alive in the afterlife when the pharaoh called for them to do work for him.
This is just a guess, but I would imagine that in the New Kingdom, servants belonging to a pharaoh, would on his death be likely to have been passed on to the next pharaoh (usually his son) to use how he wished.


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 20, 2006 4:21 am 
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Hi Erasmus,

I think I can answer your question.

In the early dynasties of Old Kingdom, there were a few cases where the servants of the Pharaoh were entombed with their king. This practice of human sacrifice was later replaced by having small statuettes called ushabtis (or shabtis) included in the tombs. The purpose of the ushabtis were to do the work for the deceased in the afterlife. They were inscribed with magical text listing the tasks that were to be performed. Some tombs have been found with hundreds of ushabtis.

As for the real servants, most often they went on to become servants of the new Pharaoh. Some boasts to have served under a number of Pharaohs in their liftime. In fact the various tasks and titles held by servants and nobles were usually family trades and were carried on for generations.

Hop this helps.


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 20, 2006 4:30 am 
Egyptian Architect
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Here's some information on Shabti's: Image Wikipedia Link, and here's a pictuure of a Shabti: Image Shabti.
I'm not certain where the particular graves are located that have servants buried with pharaohs, though.... Maybe someone else will have a better idea.... Image


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 20, 2006 4:39 am 
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LOL, I guess you didn't really need the links on the purposes of the Shabti, Erasmus, :D as Neb-Ma'at-Re just explained them perfectly! :wink:


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 20, 2006 8:35 am 
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You confirmed all I was able to discover myself, with regard to Shabti and even wall paintings or carvings to be used as servants in the afterlife. But, that was all I was able to find out. It makes sense that servants would be passed down as property to the new pharaoh. Thanks for all your help!

:D


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PostPosted: Mon Oct 23, 2006 4:46 am 
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It is possible that the people buried near the king died of natural causes.


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PostPosted: Mon Oct 23, 2006 8:41 am 
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tnrees,
It would be an honor for any egyptian to be buried near a dead king (ie. in the vacinity of a mortuary complex/tomb). Although I can't speak specifically for Erasmus, but I think he/she is refering to servants that were buried with their king in the mortuary complexess or tomb itself.


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PostPosted: Mon Oct 23, 2006 9:33 am 
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Yes the tomb of Harwa I have just posted about was in the causway of Mentuhotep (much earlier but the 25th Dynasty was interested in past glories)


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