Shabti box and figures of Henutmehyt

From the tomb of Henutmehyt at Thebes, Egypt
19th Dynasty, around 1250 BC

During the New Kingdom (about 1550-1070 BC), the number of shabtis to be included in a tomb increased considerably. The miniature coffins in which they had been kept became large boxes, decorated with funerary scenes. One of the scenes on the box of Henutmehyt shows her adoring the sons of Horus, who protected the internal organs of the deceased. This motif is perhaps more suited to the decoration of canopic chests. The other scene shows the deceased offering a tray of food to Hathor of the Sycamore Tree. This is returned by the goddess, who also supplies a libation (liquid offering), symbolic of purification. Henutmehyt wears the flowing robe, long wig and lotus flower that was fashionable when she lived.

Faience is the material most commonly associated with shabti figures, though Spell 6 of the Book of the Dead specifies that they should be made of wood, as these are. Although all the figures are similar, there are small differences in details such as the treatment of the necklaces and bracelets. Some are inscribed with the full version of the spell to activate the figures to carry out agricultural work, while others have only an abbreviated version.

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More information


J.H. Taylor, Studies in Egyptian antiquitie, British Museum Occasional Paper 123 (, 1999)


Height: 33.500 cm (box)
Width: 19.200 cm (box)
Length: 33.200 cm (box)
Height: 33.500 cm (box)

Museum number

EA 41548



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