Shabti, 1293-1070 BCE (New Kingdom, Dynasties 19-20)
Earthenware; molded with slip
Overall: 6 3/8 in x 2 1/16 in x 1 11/16 in; 16.2 cm x 5.2 cm x 4.3 cm
Gift of the Egypt Exploration Fund
Ancient Egyptians were obliged to perform certain tasks for the state, including agricultural labor. Small mummy-shaped figurines called “shabtis” were introduced to perform this work in the afterlife and often carried hoes or seed-baskets. Initially, the deceased was given only one shabti, but the number increased dramatically over time. From the 18th Dynasty on, shabtis sometimes appeared dressed as living people rather than as mummies. These statuettes could be made of earthenware, Egyptian faience, stone, or other materials.