Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Travel Tuesday: Ancient Egyptian Shabtis

A variety of shabtis from the 19th and 20th dynasties (1292-1075 BC)

If you've spent much time in the Egyptology section of any good museum, you've probably seen a collection of little figurines that look like miniature mummies. These are called "shabtis", meaning "answerer". They were put in tombs in order to answer the call to work in the afterlife so that the deceased could relax. They'd come to life and do whatever labor the gods called on them to do.

Some shabtis got their own coffin and larger collections were put in decorated boxes like the one on the left.

Shabtis come in a variety of styles and quality and are made of wood, faience, wax, terracotta, or stone. Some tombs had hundreds of them, and they are one of the most common artifacts to find in museums. These are from the archaeological museum in Bologna, Italy.

I recently did a blog post over on Black Gate about shabtis in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo that goes into more detail about these remarkable artifacts. I've also done a post right here on a rare double shabti.

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