“If I die you’re all coming too!” What were ‘retainer sacrifices’?
When Ancient Egyptian Pharaohs died, their court officials, servants, and artisans would often be sacrificed so that they could accompany them in the afterlife.
The Ancient Mesopotamians also carried out these ‘retainer sacrifices.’ In the famous tomb of Queen Puabi were found 74 attendants, 6 men and 68 women, all adorned with gold and silver. She was also buried with 52 attendants: servants, guards, horse, lions, a chariot, and several other bodies.
In the same ‘death pit’ was discovered the Golden Lyre of Ur, complete with the skeleton of a musician with her hands still on the strings. All of the sacrifices are thought to have been poisoned, although a recent study suggests some of them were likely violent and caused by blunt force trauma.