Shawabty of Denitptah, born of Irty-ru

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

Findspot: Egypt, Giza, Pit G 7792 A


Overall: 12.3cm (4 13/16in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique


Not On View


The Ancient World


Shawabties and shawabty boxes

This shawabty, inscribed for Denitptah, born of Irty-ru, 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 are crossed and opposed. The right holds a large hoe and cord to a small seed bag slung over the back of the left shoulder. The left hand holds the pick. There is one faint framed column of incised text on the front of the figure. The forehead hairline of the wig is indicated by 3 incised horizontal lines. The ends of the front lappets also have 2 incised horizontal lines. The back pillar stands out, extending slightly beyond the profile of he wig. There is an incised horizontal line at the bottom of the back of the wig. The glaze is chipped off in places.

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, Pit G 7792 A. 1928: Excavated by the Harvard University–Boston Museum of Fine Arts Expedition; assigned to the MFA by the government of Egypt.
March, 1928

Credit Line

Harvard University—Boston Museum of Fine Arts Expedition