Private individuals served the gods in various ways. Many private homes had shrines where the family worshiped household gods. These gods protected the home and its occupants. Common people also presented votive offerings to the gods at their local temples. Votive offerings were statuettes, steles, or carved plaques that included a prayer to the god or a hymn praising the deity. Worshipers placed these offerings in the main courtyard of the temple. When the priests needed more room to place them, they buried the votive offerings in pits. These pits have provided scholars with information about the worship of the common people. Votive offerings show the rise in personal piety among the people of ancient Egypt.