Fragment of shawabty
Findspot: Egypt, Giza, Avenue 3, black debris
2.7 x 0.9 cm (1 1/16 x 3/8 in.)
Medium or Technique
Not On View
Legs and base fragment of shawabty, no pedestal or pilaster. Traces of cloth wrapped around fraont (from mold?), violet glaze, hard paste.
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, Avenue 3, black debris. 1925: excavated by the Harvard University–Museum of Fine Arts Expedition; assigned to the MFA by the government of Egypt.
Harvard University—Boston Museum of Fine Arts Expedition