Kamil Vodera/Czech Institute of Archaeology

“Oh thou shabti,” reads a spell in chapter 6 of the Egyptian Book of the Dead, “If one calls you at any time, ‘Here I am,’ you shall say, ‘I shall do it!’” The Czech team found 408 faience shabti figurines (including this one and the two in the next photo) stacked neatly in two boxes (see photo of shabti figurines stacked in boxes) next to the limestone sarcophagus; they all bore inscriptions identifying them as serving “Iufaa, Administrator of the Palaces.”

Often found in ancient Egyptian burials, the 6-inch-high shabtis performed various services for the deceased in the afterlife—such as anointing him with oils from the vases shown opposite or, especially, tending to his fields after the flooding of the Nile. Each figure is depicted carrying two hoes and a bag thrown over the shoulder, ready to carry out Iufaa’s orders.