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W1312 Shabti belonging to General Ankhwahibre-sa-net

W1312A shabti belonging to a famous Egyptian general. Shabtis stood in for their owners and even did the work for them in the afterlife. The spell on this shabti is from Spell 6 of the Book of the Dead, which asks the shabti to do the work for the owner.

This is a shabti which belonged to General Ankhwahibre-sa-Net of the late 26th Dynasty. His tomb is at Saqqara at the site of what later became the monastery of Apa Jeremias. When the tomb was uncovered by Quibell in the early 20th century, 384 shabtis of the General were uncovered. They are now scattered world-wide. This shabti came to us via the British Museum in 1980. 

The back of the shabti reads The illuminated one, the Osiris, General of the Army, Ankh-wah-ib-Re-Sa-Net, born of Isis-Mry. The inscription continues on the front with a version of chapter 6 of the Book of the Dead and reads: O you ushabti, if one numbers me to do any work that is to be done in the necropolis, when obstacles have been fixed there, like a man in accordance with his duties, ‘Behold me!’-so you shall say. If you assess me at any time to act there, to make arable the fields, to flood the banks, to move the sand from the West to the East, ‘Behold Me!’ -so shall you say. 

The title ‘Illuminated One’ appears from the end of the Second Intermediate Period. The dead were considered to become shining, like the gods. The owner is called ‘The Osiris’ as the dead were considered to become linked to the god of the dead, Osiris. In the Old Kingdom, only the King became an Osiris, but after this period all the ‘justified’ dead were linked with this god. The word ‘ushabti’ is here rather than ‘shabti’. This term is more commonly used from the Third Intermediate Period. 

From the Third Intermediate Period, shabtis were made in moulds and produced in large quantities. Very often there was one for each day of the year. This seems likely to have been the case with the General’s shabtis. 

The back pillar and pedestal, plaited beard and tripartite wig without a fillet on this shabti are features which indicates it was made in the 26th Dynasty or later. In the hands of the shabti are a hoe and pick and it carries a basket over its back. Implements are first given to shabtis in the 18th Dynasty and picks are included in the Late Period. In the 26th Dynasty too, inscriptions of the shabti spell (chapter 6 of the Book of the Dead) are usually given in horizontal lines around the body while a shorter text at the back gives name and parentage. Most of these late shabtis have been found in North Egypt. 

Ankhwahibre was a general in the Egyptian army around 570BC. This was a time of chaos in Egypt with mutiny at Elephantine and war against the Dorian Greeks. The Egyptian king, Apries was defeated by the Dorian Greeks and when he returned to Egypt war brought out between the Egyptian army and foreign mercenaries. A strong leader was needed and a colleague of Ankhwahibre, general Amasis, took control and ruled for 44 years.

Other shabtis in the Egypt Centre

Further Reading 

Aubert, J-F., 1974. Statuettes Égyptiennes. Chaoubtis, Ouchebtis. 

Châban, M. Annales Du Service Des Antiquités De L’Égypte. 1917, 177-182. 

Schneider, H.D., 1977. Shabtis. An Introduction To The History Of Ancient Egyptian Funerary Statuettes With A Catalogue Of The Shabtis In The National Museum Of Antiquities at Leiden. Vol II.  

Taylor, J.H.,2001. Death and The Afterlife in Ancient Egypt.