Late Period, Dynasty 26–30
Findspot: Egypt, Giza, Debris in pit G 7450 XII
Overall: 8 cm (3 1/8 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. Here the hands appear to be crossed right over left. There is no seed bag, back pillar, wig line or base. There are finger impressions on the back where the figure was pressed into its mold. The shawabty is uninscribed. The shawabty is very crudely shaped and the features are indistinct, the surface is pitted.
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 Debris in pit G7450 XII. 1927: 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