Requires Photography

Shawabti fragments of unidentified queen ?

Nubian
Napatan Period
750–270 B.C.


Findspot: Nubia (Sudan), Nuri, Beg. S. 84 debris outside door block

Dimensions

Legs: 4.5 x 2 cm (1 3/4 x 13/16 in.) Feet: 4.4 x 2.7 cm (1 3/4 x 1 1/16 in.)

Accession Number

21-2-226

Medium or Technique

Faience

Not On View

Collections

The Ancient World

Classifications

Shawabties and shawabty boxes

These are two fragments of 2 shawabtis of an unidentified queen. One is an upper leg and lower torso fragment, the other a non-joining leg and foot fragment.
There are 3 vertical lines of framed text on the front of each fragment. The Object Register compares this object with 21-2-197.

The ancient Nubians included shawabtys in their tombs only in the Napatan Period, about 750–270 B.C. These funerary figurines are based on Egyptian shawabtys, but differ from them in many features of their iconography. For instance, the known Nubian examples are only from royal tombs. Also, they have unique texts, implements, poses and are known to have the largest number of shawabtys included in one tomb. Their function, it is assumed, was the same as that of the Egyptian shawabty, namely to magically animate in the Afterlife in order to act as a proxy for the deceased when called upon to tend to field labor or other tasks. This expressed purpose was sometimes written on the shawabty itself in the form of a “Shawabty Spell,” of which versions of various lengths are known. Shorter shawabty inscriptions could also just identify the deceased by name and, when applicable, title(s). However, many shawabtys carry no text at all. The ideal number of such figurines to include in a tomb or burial seems to have varied during different time periods.

Provenance

From Nubia (Sudan), Meroe Beg. S. 84 (tomb of unidentified queen ?) debris outside door block. 1921: excavated by the Harvard University–Boston Museum of Fine Arts Expedition; assigned to the MFA in the division of finds by the government of Sudan.

Credit Line

Harvard University–Boston Museum of Fine Arts Expedition