Late Period
760–343 B.C.

Findspot: Egypt, Giza


Height x width x depth: 9.7 x 3.2 x 2.5 cm (3 13/16 x 1 1/4 x 1 in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique


Not On View


The Ancient World


Shawabties and shawabty boxes

Uninscribed. Faience. Glazed. Pick, hoe and basket. Back support. Tip of beard chipped.

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 [Excav. date] April, 1927. Excavated by the Harvard University-Museum of Fine Arts Expedition and assigned to the MFA by the Egyptian government.

Credit Line

Harvard University—Boston Museum of Fine Arts Expedition