This article needs additional citations for verification. (February 2008)
They are usually personal possessions, supplies to smooth the deceased's journey into the afterlife or offerings to the gods. Grave goods may be classed as a type of votive deposit. Most grave goods recovered by archaeologists consist of inorganic objects such as pottery and stone and metal tools but organic objects that have since decayed were also placed in ancient tombs. The grave goods were to be useful to the deceased in the afterlife; therefore their favorite foods or everyday objects were left with them. Often times social status played a role in what was left and how often it was left. Funerary art is a broad term but generally means artworks made specifically to decorate a burial place, such as miniature models of possessions including slaves or servants for "use" in the afterlife. Although, in ancient Egypt they would sometimes bury the real servants with the deceased.
Where grave goods appear, grave robbery is a potential problem. Etruscans would scratch the word śuθina, Etruscan for "from a tomb", on grave goods buried with the dead to discourage their reuse by the living. The tomb of pharaoh Tutankhamun is famous because it was one of the few Egyptian tombs that was not thoroughly looted in ancient times.
Grave goods can be regarded as a sacrifice intended for the benefit of the deceased in the afterlife. Closely related are customs of ancestor worship and offerings to the dead, in modern western culture related to All Souls' Day (Day of the Dead), in East Asia the "hell bank note" and related customs. Also closely related is the custom of retainer sacrifice, where servants or wives of a deceased chieftain are interred with the body. As the inclusion of expensive grave goods and of slaves or retainers became a sign of high status in the Bronze Age, the prohibitive cost led to the development of "fake" grave goods, where artwork meant to depict grave goods or retainers is produced for the burial and deposited in the grave in place of the actual sacrifice.