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Grave goods

Items buried along with the body / From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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Grave goods, in archaeology and anthropology, are items buried along with a body.

The gilded throne of Pharaoh Tutankhamun is but one of the treasures found within his tomb.

They are usually personal possessions, supplies to smooth the deceased's journey into an afterlife, or offerings to gods. Grave goods may be classed by researchers as a type of votive deposit. Most grave goods recovered by archaeologists consist of inorganic objects such as pottery and stone and metal tools, but organic objects that have since decayed were also placed in ancient tombs.[1] If grave goods were to be useful to the deceased in the afterlife, then favorite foods or everyday objects were supplied. Oftentimes, social status played a role in what was left and how often it was left.[2] Funerary art is a broad term but generally means artworks made specifically to decorate a burial place, such as miniature models of possessions - including slaves or servants - for "use" in an afterlife. (Ancient Egypt sometimes saw the burial of real servants with the deceased.[3] Similar cases of human sacrifice of slaves, retainers and wives feature in graves in (for example) the Americas, ancient Germania, and ancient Mesopotamia.[4] Compare suttee.)

Where grave goods appear, grave robbery is a potential problem. Etruscans would scratch the word śuθina, Etruscan for "from a tomb", on grave goods buried with the dead to discourage their reuse by the living.[5] The tomb of pharaoh Tutankhamun is famous because it was one of the few Egyptian tombs that was not thoroughly looted in ancient times.

Grave goods can be regarded as a sacrifice intended for the benefit of the deceased in the afterlife. Closely related are customs of ancestor worship and offerings to the dead, in modern western culture related to All Souls' Day (Day of the Dead), in East Asia the "hell bank note" and related customs.[6][7][8] Also closely related is the custom of retainer sacrifice, where servants or wives of a deceased chieftain are interred with the body.[9] As the inclusion of expensive grave goods and of slaves or retainers became a sign of high status in the Bronze Age, the prohibitive cost led to the development of "fake" grave goods, where artwork meant to depict grave goods or retainers is produced for the burial and deposited in the grave in place of the actual sacrifice.[10]