Homepage Timeline Maps A-Z index Learning

Shabti boxes

The increase in numbers of shabti figures placed in the tomb led to the development of special containers for them - shabti boxes. In the Ramesside Period, these are plain in structure, but the continuing increase in numbers led to the development from double to triple compartment boxes.

In some Ramesside burials, the shabtis were placed in pottery jars with jackal heads, invoking the god of embalming and protection of the dead, Anubis; these brightly painted pots are sometimes misidentified as canopic jars, but have more bulky bodies. Conversely, some tall wooden containers of the Ptolemaic Period (by which time few shabtis were being produced) are sometimes misidentified as shabti boxes, though they seem to be the latest form of canopic container, or box for the separately mummified soft inner organs of the body.

The following fragments of wooden boxes in the Petrie Museum belong most probably to shabti boxes.

Ramesside Period
25th-26th Dynasty
UC 16311, fragment of a shabti box (?) UC 38042, part of a shabti box
UC 38043, shabti box

Lids of shabti boxes; Ramesside to Third Intermediate Period

UC 16398 UC 16399 UC 16400 UC 16401
Petrie 1937: 12. no. 234
Petrie 1937: 12. no.235 :

Petrie 1937: 2. no.235

Petrie 1937: 2. no.235


Aston 1994 (a typology of shabti boxes)


Copyright © 2002 University College London. All rights reserved.