Late Period, Dynasty 26–30
Findspot: Egypt, Giza, Rock-cut tomb G 7813 T, debris
Overall: 6.4 cm (2 1/2 in.)
Medium or Technique
Not On View
This shawabty 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 object was broken in two pieces and is now mended. There is no back pillar and the figure is carelessly flattened on the back. The foot area is hand formed with little evidence of a rectangular base. The shawabty is coarsely made with rudimentary features and the arm position is undetermined.
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, Rock-cut tomb G 7813 T, debris. 1931: 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