Shabti of Nubian Queen Maleteral. Shabtis were workers provided to assist the deceased with chores in their next life. In contrast with Egyptians, people of Nubia (Sudan) only placed shabtis in graves for a relatively brief period in history, 750-250 B.C. Excavated by George Reisner for the MFA-Harvard University joint expedition beginning in 1916.

In the ancient Nile valley, one’s success in the afterlife depended on objects. Burial offerings were thought to accompany a soul from one life into the next. Thousands of years later, many of these artifacts can be found within museum storerooms, often still grouped as they once were found. Revered and studied by audiences no one could have expected.

This is image is part of my series, Hereafter, which explores artifacts in the storage rooms of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, whose Egyptian collection is one of the largest and most comprehensive in the world. These objects are some of the earliest acquired by the MFA Boston and they form a cornerstone upon which an encyclopedic museum was built.

Photography by Diana Zlatanovski.