Late Period, Dynasty 26–30
Findspot: Egypt, Giza, 7300, Roman Debris
Overall: 4.2 cm (1 5/8 in.)
Medium or Technique
Not On View
This is a torso fragment of a shawabty which dates to the Late Period. Here the hands are crossed and opposed. The right holds a large hoe and cord to a small seed bag slung over the back of the left shoulder. The left hand holds the pick. There is incised text on 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 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.
From Giza 7300, Roman Debris. 1925: 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