Late Period, Dynasty 26–30
Findspot: Egypt, Giza, pit of G 7130-a
Overall: 4 cm (1 9/16 in.)
Medium or Technique
Not On View
This is a torso fragment of a Late Period shawabty. The Late Period typology consists of a tripartite wig, long beard, back pillar and base, with the figure holding the pick on the right shoulder and hoe and cord to a small seed bag on the left. Here there is the remains of one plus a fragment of another horizontal line of incised text encircling the body, ending at the back pillar.
An ancient Egyptian shawabty is a funerary figurine that was intended 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 length 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.
From Giza, pit of G7130-a. 1924: excavated by the Harvard University–Boston Museum of Fine Arts Expedition; assigned to the MFA in the division of finds by the government of Egypt.
Harvard University–Boston Museum of Fine Arts Expedition