Ancient Egyptian Grave Robbers

Being put into a grave was very important for the Ancient Egyptians and being put into the grave meant that they could go to the afterlife after they died.  During these times though, people called grave robbers would come and would take things out of the tombs.

Grave Robbers

One of the worst crimes that could be committed during the Ancient Egyptian times was robbing a grave.  Grave robbers would steal whatever they could find, and they would break things that had no value to them.


If someone was caught robbing graves, they would receive a punishment that was cruel and then they would be killed.  This is one reason that most grave robbers would break anything in their path because they were always in a hurry so that they wouldn’t be caught.

Broken Things

Things inside of the graves of the Ancient Egyptians was very important to them.  Some of these things were left as gifts for the dead to take to the afterlife and some were important for the dead to even make it to the afterlife like the name plate.

The name plate was very important because the Ancient Egyptians believed that the name had to be put on the coffin in order for the Ba and Ka to find their way back to the body and so the person could go to the afterlife.

Ba and Ka

The Ba and Ka are part of the soul.  They are split into two different parts when someone dies.  The Ba goes to watch over the dead persons friends and family and the Ka goes to live in the Land of Two Fields and to enjoy life.

When a person has a name plate on their coffin, the Ba and Ka can come together at night and be with the person in the afterlife.  But if the name plate is lost, the Ba and Ka could get lost and not be able to find your body or to return to the tomb.  If this would happen, the person that died could be lost forever and would never make it to the afterlife.

Preserved Body

Sometimes, the grave robbers would rip the mummy cloth or the fabric that was covering the body.  The Ancient Egyptians believed that the body had to be mummified in order for the person to be able to enter into the afterlife, so when the grave clothing was ripped, it could cause damage to the body and stop them from being able to go into the afterlife.

Since making it to the afterlife is the primary purpose of all beings, the Ancient Egyptians were very strict with how they punished grave robbers.  This was a very serious crime.

Grave Goods

It was believed that whatever was left in the tomb with the body was what the person that died could take with them to the afterlife.  When a person would leave treasures such as jewelry, food, spices, clothing, toys or other things, these were important to the families because they wanted their loved one to have a happy life in the afterlife.

When the grave robbers would go into the graves, they would take anything that they found valuable such as jewelry, clothing, toys, spices and more.  When this happened, the Ancient Egyptians would have to replace those valuables.

Sometimes, the people were not very rich, and it was hard for them to replace the valuables that were taken by grave robbers.

More Facts About Ancient Egyptian Grave Robbers:

  • Sometimes families would leave garbage and bricks in the tomb so that grave robbers would have a harder time getting to the goods.
  • Some pharaohs would leave words of a curse on their graves so that people would be afraid to steal from those tombs.
  • One of the most famous curses found in a tomb was found in the tomb of King Tut.
  • Most of the grave robbers would take things from the tomb almost right after a person was buried.
  • People would sometimes try to hide the tombs so that grave robbers would not know where they could find treasures.

What Did You Learn?

  1. What is a grave robber?  A grave robber in Ancient Egyptian times was a person that would break into the tombs of people and steal things that were valuable.
  2. Why would things in the tombs get broken? Things in the tombs would get broken because the grave robbers were in a hurry because they were afraid, they would get caught.
  3. What would happen if a grave robber got caught? Grave robbing was a serious crime and if caught, the person would be punished and killed.
  4. Why was it bad for the grave robbers to break things in the tombs? Some of the things in the tombs were there so that the body could make it to the afterlife, like the name plate.  When this was broken, the Ba and Ka would not know where to return to the body.
  5. Why were some of the bodies harmed by the grave robbers? Sometimes, families would hide jewels and valuable things in the cloth of the mummy and so the grave robbers would pull off the cloth and would sometimes harm the body while doing it.