Requires Photography

Shawabty of Ptahirdis, born of Merptah

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


Findspot: Egypt, Giza, Debris E of Pyr. Ib, St. G 7000

Dimensions

Overall: 2.8 cm (1 1/8 in.)

Accession Number

25.5257

Medium or Technique

Faience

Not On View

Collections

The Ancient World

Classifications

Shawabties and shawabty boxes

This is a torso fragment of a shawabty which dates to the Late Period. 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.There are horizontal lines of incised text encircling the body, ending at the back pillar. There is also incised text on the back pillar of the figure. It is inscribed for Ptahirdis, born of Merptah.

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, debris E of Pyr. Ib, Street G7000. 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