Weird History
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Odd And Insane Things Ancient Pharaohs Were Buried With

Updated September 23, 2021 6.8k votes 1.2k voters 75.9k views12 items

List RulesVote up the most bizarre items found in Ancient Egyptian tombs.

We've all heard the fantastic tales of King Tut and the stories of Nefertiti, and how they wound up encased in brilliant tombs filled with treasure only to be uncovered thousands of years later. Their tombs are the stuff of legend, and there are few mysteries greater than those of the pyramids (how were the pyramids built, anyways?), but some of what was found inside these mystical tombs was a bit stranger than one might expect. Golden jewelry? Makes sense. Entire boats? Come again?

This collection of artifacts, some pilfered and some honestly excavated, shine a light on the daily life of Ancient Egyptians, as it shows us what they considered important enough to bring with them into the afterlife. It has to make you wonder what they would think about our comparatively simple processes of cremation and burial, but for now just try to wrap your head around these odd artifacts. Would you want these things with you in the afterlife?

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  • Photo: The Carouselambra Kid / flickr / CC BY-NC 2.0
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    Cosmetics, Wigs, And Perfumes

    As anyone would, Egyptians wanted to look good and smell good in the afterlife, so they brought tons of cosmetics with them. Tombs contained makeup kits, used by both men and women, rich and poor. Perhaps the most famous cosmetic, eyeliner (aka kohl), appeared in pots pretty much everywhere. Scent was just as important as looks; salves and perfumes were super-popular. Tut's tomb contained a stunning perfume box, for example, and clearly everyone loved a good wig, as witnessed by the many toppers found in eternal resting places.

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    Fancy Chariots And Even Some Not So Fancy Chariots

    In order to gallop out the hunt in the afterlife, pharaohs needed chariots...and boy, did they have them. King Tut had six buried in his tomb with him: three for decorative use, and three for everyday affairs. It would be hard to stick fully-constructed chariots in a low-ceilinged tomb, so they were dismantled before being stowed away for eternity. The technology, which reached Egypt in the second millennium B.C.E., was a favorite one to use in both war and play.

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  • Photo: Roland Unger / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 1.0
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    Elaborate And Priceless Masks

    King Tut's golden funeral mask is perhaps the most famous facial covering from the ancient world, but it's far from the only one. Mummies, especially upper-class ones, would boast masks that symbolized the body's transition from the human realm to the divine. In particular, pharaohs wore golden masks to symbolize their ascent to godhead (gold was seen as the flesh of the divine) and to invoke magical protection. 

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  • Photo: Keith.Fulton / flickr / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
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    Sacred Jewelry

    Mummies had tons of amulets and sacred jewels placed into their linen folds. Why? To protect the deceased in the deadly afterlife. A few types of amulets were super-common: for example, the djed pillar, a symbol of Osiris, god of the dead, that represented stability. The materials out of which these holy pieces were made were thought to have magical properties; the amulets were believed to have apotropaic properties, meaning they averted bad luck.

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