Requires Photography

Shawabty

Egyptian
Late Period, Dynasty 26–30
664–332 B.C.


Findspot: Egypt, Giza, Between G 7330 and 7320, Ave. G-2

Dimensions

Overall: 2.5 cm (1 in.)

Accession Number

25.5284

Medium or Technique

Faience

Not On View

Collections

The Ancient World

Classifications

Shawabties and shawabty boxes

This head and torso fragment of a mummiform shawabty is in the classic Late Period form which is characterized by tripartite wig, long beard and back pillar. The figure holds the pick on the right shoulder and hoe and cord to a small seed bag on the left. It is very crudely formed.

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.

Provenance

From Giza, Between G7330 and 7320, Ave. G-2 . 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.

Credit Line

Harvard University–Boston Museum of Fine Arts Expedition