How to determine the age of a shabti or ushabti / ushebti

Amarna Period 1340 BC – Reliefs in the tomb of Vizier Ramose TT55 and shabti of Hat – Photo: VB

This page is intended as an aid when dating shabtis. Each shabti has specific attributes or features that occur often in a specific period. These are marked in red in the time bar. Yellow in the time bar indicates a period where the attribute occurs less often. If a feature occurs only rarely or not at all, the period is white

If your shabti, for example, is holding a pick and a hoe, it can be dated from the 26th dynasty up to the Ptolemaic era. If you have a shabti holding two hoes, it was made between the end of the 18th dynasty and before the 26th dynasty. The pictures above the time bar show several examples with this feature. It is often possible to combine several features, allowing you to shorten the time span during which the shabti was made. In most cases this overview will yield a correct indication of the dating, but exceptions remain possible

Please note the dating of the “False beard on private persons” since short beards are already being worn during the Middle Kingdom, and the New Kingdom and the Third Intermediate Period have also produced a number of shabtis with beard. This often points to a pharaoh or someone very close to the pharaoh. In the Late Period virtually everybody gets a rather long beard. So most shabtis with a long beard are from the Late Period

On the shabti of Pinedjem II (970 BC) the term “Ushebti” is used for the first time, before that it was “Shebti” or Shabti. So from that moment on shabtis are called Ushabti. So shabtis from the Late Period should be called ushabtis, but most publications (including this website) usually use the term shabti

Shabtis with agricultural tools like hoes, picks, brick moulds, pots, baskets and bags

Ushabtis with one Pick and one Hoe

(U)shabtis with Two Hoes

Ushabtis with a small bag ‘usually’
on the left shoulder blade

Shabtis with a bag
in the middle of the back

Shabtis with a yoke, bags, pots or brick moulds
on the back

Shabtis with a yoke, bags, pots or brick moulds
on the front

Shabtis with separalety modelled tools

Other features like false beard, dorsal pillar, hairband, wigs, side lock, dress and pierced ears

Ushabtis with an Osirian false beard
on non-royal persons

Ushabtis with a back pillar and
trapezoidal pedestal

Ushabtis with a T-Band

Shabtis with a Seshet hair band (fillet)

Shabtis in daily dress as an Overseer with whip

Shabtis in daily dress as Sah (body) of the deceased

Shabtis with a women’s wig

Shabtis with a duplex wig

Shabtis with a side lock (priest)

Shabtis with ear ornaments

Shabtis with pierced earlobes

Wax shabtis, Stick shabtis, Peg shabtis

Wax figurines / shabtis

Stick shabtis

Peg shabtis (contour perdu)

Materials used to manufacture shabtis

Faience (u)shabtis

Pottery shabtis

Wood shabtis

Sun-dried clay shabtis

Stone shabtis

Bronze shabtis