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Box for Shabties

Egyptian, Classical, Ancient Near Eastern Art

On View: Funerary Gallery 2, Martha A. and Robert S. Rubin Gallery, 3rd Floor
The box inscribed for a priest named Ankhef[en]khons once contained small figurines, known as shabties. These figurines (on view in the nearby gallery) were intended to perform tasks for the deceased in the afterlife. Because the number of shabties in a tomb could reach into the hundreds, the figurines were commonly deposited in shrine-shaped containers, such as this one.
MEDIUM Wood, pigment
  • Place Collected: Thebes, Egypt
  • DATES ca. 1075-656 B.C.E.
    DYNASTY Dynasty 21 to Dynasty 22
    PERIOD Third Intermediate Period
    DIMENSIONS 16 7/8 x 20 3/8 x 13 in. (42.8 x 51.7 x 33 cm)  (show scale)
    ACCESSION NUMBER 37.1524E
    CREDIT LINE Charles Edwin Wilbour Fund
    RIGHTS STATEMENT Creative Commons-BY
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    CAPTION Box for Shabties, ca. 1075-656 B.C.E. Wood, pigment , 16 7/8 x 20 3/8 x 13 in. (42.8 x 51.7 x 33 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Charles Edwin Wilbour Fund, 37.1524E. Creative Commons-BY (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 37.1524E_PS9.jpg)
    IMAGE overall, 37.1524E_PS9.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 2016
    "CUR" at the beginning of an image file name means that the image was created by a curatorial staff member. These study images may be digital point-and-shoot photographs, when we don\'t yet have high-quality studio photography, or they may be scans of older negatives, slides, or photographic prints, providing historical documentation of the object.
    CATALOGUE DESCRIPTION Box for ushebtis of teh God's Father of Amon. Ankhef(en)khons. The object is a carved wooden box originally intended to hold ushabtis in a tomb chamber. The rectangular box is composed of ten pieces of wood joined with wooden dowels; the shape widens slightly at the base. Each side panel and the bottom appear to be carved from a single piece of wood, with the exception of the front panel which appears to have a small insert along the proper left side (distinguishable by a change in wood grain direction along a diagonal edge). Shallow crenellations on the proper left side of the front panel indicate that this piece was likely reused. The top is composed of three separate crescent shaped panels, each separated by short, vertical wooden dividers. Each of the crescent panels contains two wooden dowels, one in each of the short ends, some of which extend through the walls of the box, though not all of the dowels are extant. The front of the box is decorated with a six six lines of text, mentioning Amenhotep I and the owner: it nTr n imn anx-f[n] xnsw. There is a circular, decorative knob centered above the inscription. The entire box appears to have been coated with a gesso layer. The layers on the crescent panels appear thicker and more secure than those on the sides. Condition: The object is in fair condition. There are large cracks and splits in the majority of the panels. There are also abrasions present across the surface of the box, some of which appear brighter and may thus be newer than others. The edges of the box are particularly abraded. There is evidence of water staining on the majority of the vertical panels The gesso appears to have been applied across the surface once the box had been constructed, causing thicker regions to accumulate in the seams. In general, the extant gesso appears to be fairly well adhered to the surface.
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