Requires Photography


Late Period, Dynasty 26
688–525 B.C.

Findspot: Egypt, Giza, G 7767, debris room I


Overall: 7 cm (2 3/4 in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique


Not On View


The Ancient World


Shawabties and shawabty boxes

This is a head to knees fragment of a shawabty which dates to the Late Period.The typology of this period 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. The shawabty is uninscribed. The figure is coarsely made with rudimentary features. The figure is carelessly flattened on the back. The foot area is hand formed with little evidence of a rectangular base. There is no wig line or seed bag on the back. The hands of the shawabty are not visible.

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 Pit G 7767, debris room I. 1930: 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