Left: Gaston Masparo lounging on the so-called “Masparo’s bench” at the right side of the tomb entrance (1882)
Middle: The discoverer and robber Ahmed Abd-er-Rassul at the tomb entrance, 30 years after his discovery (1902)
Right: Funerary items from the Royal Cache DB320 (officialy found, explored and cleared in 1881)

Royal Cache DB320 shabtis

This page shows all shabti types found in Royal Cache DB320. The sections are per owner and based on the divergent form of the shabtis.

The source for this research

The high priests of the 21st dynasty reburied the mummies of the old gods (including pharaohs Tuthmose III, Seti I and Ramses II) in a secret collective tomb (also refered to as Cache or Cachette), because a number of kings’ tombs had been defiled and plundered by thieves looking for treasure. The high priests also used this secret spot as a final resting place for themselves and their loved ones. Only a few valuables belonging to the interred royals were found in the tomb. The high priests have probably re-used the missing pieces or stolen them to enrich themselves or to maintain the rule over the south.

Menkheppera, a son of Pinedjem I, is missing from the tomb. Menkheperra was in office for no less than 55 years, 42 of them as pharaoh and ruler of the south. During his reign, the clearing out of kings’ tombs continued and must have yielded a lot of gold and silver. It is possible that he took part of these treasures with him to his own final resting place. His tomb and the one belonging to his wife have not been discovered yet.

The discovery of the collective tomb in 1881 gives us insight into the things that were interred with the high priests and their loved ones. This may have included 4000 shabtis. A number of them were sold illegally even before the tomb was officially opened. Others were lost, trampled or sold to tourists and museums. The Egyptian museum itself had a shop where shabtis could be bought. The remaining shabtis and fragments are now in museums, universities and private collections. In 2014 the Cairo museum had 492 Royal Cache shabtis on display, 382 workers and 110 overseers. It is unknown whether any shabtis or fragments still exist in locations that are not publicly accessible.

Although more than fifty persons were interred, shabtis have been found for only ten of them. The mummies of the others were reburied without the shabtis they probably had in their original tombs. The ten persons are:

  1. Pinedjem I, high priest and later pharaoh of the south
    2. Henuttawy A, his wife
    3. Maatkara, their daughter
    4. Masaharta, their son
    5. Tayuheret, wife of Masaharta
  1. Pinedjem II, grandson of Pinedjem I
    7. Isetemkheb D, sister and wife of Pinedjem II and granddaughter of Pinedjem I
    8. Nesykhonsu A, his niece and second wife
    9. Nestanebetisheru, daughter of Pinedjem II and Nesykhonsu A
    10. Djedptahiufankh, possibly the husband of Nestanebetisheru

This overview would not exist without

Niek de Haan who got me enthusiastic about the blue shabtis I once irreverently called “monkey faces”. Sorry!
Edward Loring (sadly, Edward passed away in 2015) who had taken to heart Egypt and the 21st dynasty. From him I received detailed photos of DB 320 shabtis in the Cairo Museum.
Glenn Janes who made it possible for me to wrap up my project. He shared materials with me that enabled me to verify earlier research and fill in gaps.
Gentlemen, thanks!

Please keep in mind that the dates of the specimens given here may be off to a certain degree. Various scholars are using other dates that in some cases differ by decades. I have included the dates I deem most probable based on various publications. If you have any questions, comments or improvements, please send an email to info@ushabtis.com.

Below you will find an overview of the shabtis, followed by some background information on the discovery of the tomb, Maspero’s notes and the location of the Royal Cache.

Family tree HPA/Kings Thebes (south) and Kings of Tanis (north). Rijksmuseum van Oudheden, Leiden
Photo: VB

Hi! My name is Gaston Maspero and I was the first one to research the Royal Cache shabtis. You can still see them in the Cairo Museum. Just click my photo to see a private impression from 2004.

1. Pinedjem I – pAy-nDm

High priest of Amon in Thebes and later ruler from the border city Tayu-djayet (el-Hiba). Tayu-djayet marked the division of the land between the high priests of Amon in Thebes and the kings of Egypt in Tanis. During his reign he reinforced control and proclaimed himself pharaoh over the south of Egypt. His son, Psusennes I, became pharaoh in the north (Tanis). Pinedjem lived to 60 years of age. His original tomb is unknown.

The shabtis of Pinedjem I are not large, but they are among the most beautiful from the 21st dynasty. In the Cairo Museum I have counted 23 workers and 3 overseers.

Pinedjem I
Worker 1
Faience, 13.6 cm
21st Dynasty, 1026 BC
Dutch private collection
Photo: VB

Pinedjem I
Worker 2
Faience, 11.2 cm
21st Dynasty, 1026 BC
Musée du Louvre, Paris E8418
Photo: Louvre

Pinedjem I
Worker 3
Faience, 10.7 cm
21st Dynasty, 1026 BC
Royal Museums of Art and History, Brussel E.5556
Photo: VB

Pinedjem I
Worker 4
Faience, 13.8 cm
21st Dynasty, 1026 BC
Thierry de Maigret, October 24, 2012 Lot 59 ex Charles Bouché
Photo: Thierry de Maigret

Pinedjem I
Overseer 1
Faience, 11.7 cm
21st Dynasty, 1026 BC
British Museum, London EA 18588
Photo: British Museum

Shabti box Pinedjem I
One of two
Cairo Museum JE 26253A
Photo: Tim Haines 2002

Shabti box Pinedjem I
Two of two (front)
Mummification Museum Luxor JE 26253B
Photo: VB 2017

Shabti box Pinedjem I
Two of two (back)
Mummification Museum Luxor JE 26253B
Photo: VB 2017

2. Henuttawy A – Hnwt-tAwy

Duat Hathor and Mistress of the Two Lands (Queen)

It is assumed that Henuttawy is a daughter of Ramses XI, the last king of the 20th dynasty. She becomes Pinedjem I’s first wife, has many titles and plays an important role at court. Originally she has her own tomb in an unknown location, and before she is interred in the secret cachette her mummy boxes are stripped of the gold that covered them.

In the Cairo Museum I have counted 41 workers and 7 overseers.

Henuttawy A
Worker 1
Like worker 2
Faience, 11.7 cm
21st Dynasty, 1040 BC
Dutch private collection
Photo: VB

Henuttawy A
Worker 2
Like worker 1 with extra writing on sides and back
Faience, estimated 11.7 cm
21st Dynasty, 1040 BC
NationalMuseet, Kopenhagen
Photo: VB

Henuttawy A
Worker 3
Faience, 13 cm
21st Dynasty, 1040 BC
Thierry de Maigret, October 24, 2012 Lot 60 ex Charles Bouché
Photo: Thierry de Maigret

Henuttawy A
Overseer 1
Faience, ca. 10.5 cm
21st Dynasty, 1040 BC
Cairo Museum
The attribution to Henuttawy is under research by Niek de Haan. He will publish his findings in 2016
Photo: Edward Loring

Henuttawy A
Overseer 2
Faience, 11.5 cm
21st Dynasty, 1040 BC
British Museum, London EA30398
Photo: VB

Henuttawy A
Overseer 3
Faience, 11.9 cm
21st Dynasty, 1040 BC
Boisgirard – Antonini,
June 18, 2014 Lot 1
Photo: Boisgirard – Antonini

Shabti coffin Henuttawy A
One of two
Cairo Museum JE 26272a
Photo: VB

3. Maatkara – mAat-kA-ra

God’s Wife of Amun

Maatkara was the eldest daughter of Pinedjem I and Henuttawy A and became the most powerful woman in the south of Egypt. Her position was equal to that of the high priest of Amon.

In the Cairo Museum I have counted 96 workers and 14 overseers.

Maatkara
Worker 1, like worker 2 but light blue
Faience, 11.5 cm
21st Dynasty, 1020 BC
Dutch private collection
Photo: VB

Maatkara
Worker 2, like worker 1 but dark blue
Faience, estimated 11.5 cm
21st Dynasty, 1020 BC
Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History, New Haven YPM 6094.3
Photo: VB

Maatkara
Overseer 1, without breasts,
only known specimen?
Faience, 9.5 cm
21st Dynasty, 1020 BC
Thierry de Maigret, October 24, 2012 Lot 64 ex Charles Bouché
Photo: Thierry de Maigret

Maatkara
Overseer 2, with beard
Faience, estimated 11.5 cm
21st Dynasty, 1020 BC
Cairo Museum
Photo: Edward Loring

Maatkara
Overseer 3
Faience, estimated 12 cm
21st Dynasty, 1020 BC
Cairo Museum
Photo: Edward Loring

Maatkara
Overseer 4, without breasts
Faience, estimated 12 cm
21st Dynasty, 1020 BC
Cairo Museum
Photo: Edward Loring

Maatkara
Overseer 5, without breasts,
three others in the museum have a cartouche on their skirts
Faience, estimated 12 cm
21st Dynasty, 1020 BC
Cairo Museum
Photo: Edward Loring

Shabti coffin Maatkara
One of two
Cairo Museum JE 26264A
Photo: VB 2004

4. Masaharta – mA-sA-hrT

High Priest of Amun

The eldest son of Pinedjem I was Masaharta. After Pinedjem had proclaimed himself pharaoh he transferred his title of High Priest of Amon to his son.

In the Cairo Museum I have counted 24 workers and 17 overseers. Masaharta’s original tomb was probably plundered in ancient times, and it is not clear whether all his shabtis date from the same period. It is assumed that there were two shabti boxes. Photos are not available.

Masaharta
Worker 1, with beard, only two with beard are known to me
Faience, 9.6 cm
21st Dynasty, 1040 BC
Dutch private collection
Photo: VB

Masaharta
Worker 2, small specimen
Faience, 9 cm
21st Dynasty, 1040 BC
Cairo Museum
Photo: Edward Loring

Masaharta
Worker 3, large specimen with seshed (fillet) headband
Faience, 10 cm
21st Dynasty, 1040 BC
Cairo Museum
Photo: Edward Loring

Masaharta
Worker 4, large specimen with striped wig
Faience, 10 cm
21st Dynasty, 1040 BC
Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, 1884.54
Photo: VB

Masaharta
Overseer 1, like overseer 2 with seshed headband and bracelet
Faience, 10.5 cm
21st Dynasty, 1040 BC
Cairo Museum
Photo: Edward Loring

Masaharta
Overseer 2, like overseer 1 with striped wig and headband
Faience, 10.5 cm
21st Dynasty, 1040 BC
Cairo Museum
Photo: Edward Loring

5. Tayuheret – tAyw-Hrt

Chief of the harem of Amun-Ra

Wife of Masaharta. In the Cairo Museum I have counted 14 workers and 18 overseers. Fragments of one shabti box were found. No photo available.

Tayuheret
Worker 1, like worker 2 with vertical lines on top of wig
Faience, ca. 11 cm
21st Dynasty, 1000 BC
Cairo Museum
Photo: Edward Loring

Tayuheret
Worker 2, like worker 1 with horizontal lines on top of wig
Faience, ca. 11 cm
21st Dynasty, 1000 BC
Cairo Museum
Photo: Edward Loring

Tayuheret
Overseer 1, like overseer 2 with vertical stripes on skirt. On a few examples the name is written on the back
Faience, ca. 10,5 cm
21st Dynasty, 1000 BC
Cairo Museum
Photo: Edward Loring

Tayuheret
Overseer 2, like overseer 1 with name of Tayuheret on skirt
Faience, ca. 10,5 cm
21st Dynasty, 1000 BC
Cairo Museum
Photo: Edward Loring

6. Pinedjem II – pA-nDm

High priest of Amun

Pinedjem II was the son of Menkheppera, grandson of Pinedjem I and married to his sister Isetemkheb D and his niece Nesykhonsu. In the Cairo Museum I have counted 27 workers and 7 overseers. His shabtis are large and have a deep blue colour, just like the ones for his second wife, Nesykhonsu. Two shabti boxes entered the Egyptian Museum with no. JE 46943 and JE 46942 (also assumed to belong to Pinedjem II). Unfortunately I found no photos and the boxes could not be traced in Cairo.

Pinedjem II
Worker 1
Faience, 17 cm
21st Dynasty, 970 BC
Dutch private collection
Photo: VB

Pinedjem II
Overseer 1
Faience, 17.5 cm
21st Dynasty, 970 BC
Beaussant Lefèvre, November 15, 2013 Lot 18
Photo: Beaussant Lefèvre

7. Isetemkheb D – Ast-m-Ax-bit

Chief of the Harem of Amun-Ra

Isetemkheb was Pinedjem II’s sister and his first wife. In the Cairo Museum I have counted 31 workers and 6 overseers. One shabti box Cairo Museum JE 26275 and second shabti box (attributed).

Isetemkheb D
Worker 1, like worker 2 but dark blue
Faience, 14.7 cm
21st Dynasty, 955 BC
Dutch private collection
Photo: VB

Isetemkheb D
Worker 2, like worker 1 but light blue
Faience, 14.5 cm
21st Dynasty, 955 BC
Dutch private collection
Photo: VB

Isetemkheb D
Worker 3
Faience, estimated 12.5-13 cm
21st Dynasty, 955 BC
Cairo Museum
Photo: Edward Loring

Isetemkheb D
Overseer 1
Faience, estimated 13.5 cm
21st Dynasty, 955 BC
Cairo Museum
Photo: Edward Loring

Isetemkheb D
Overseer 2, broad specimen
Faience, estimated 14.5 cm
21st Dynasty, 955 BC
Cairo Museum
Photo: GJ

Shabti box Isetemkheb D
One of two
Cairo Museum JE 26275
Photo: unknown

8. Nesykhonsu A – ns-xnsw

First chief of the concubines of Amun-Ra

Niece and second wife of Pinedjem II, mother of Nestanebetisheru. Her boxes, originally made for Isetemkheb D, were already stripped of their gold coverings in ancient times, and her heart scarab was stolen by the Abd-el-Rassul family, but it was recovered and taken to the British Museum. In the Cairo Museum I have counted 30 workers and 11 overseers. Two shabti boxes (attributed), no photos.

Nesykhonsu A
Worker 1, slim specimen
Faience, ca. 17 cm
21st Dynasty, 975 BC
Cairo Museum
Photo: Edward Loring

Nesykhonsu A
Worker  2, broad specimen
Faience, ca. 17 cm
21st Dynasty, 975 BC
Cairo Museum
Photo: Edward Loring

Nesykhonsu A
Worker 3, smaller broad specimen with necklace and bracelet
Faience, ca. 16 cm
21st Dynasty, 975 BC
Cairo Museum
Photo: GJ

Nesykhonsu A
Overseer 1
Faience, ca. 17 cm
21st Dynasty, 975 BC
Brooklyn Museum,
New York
Photo: VB

Nesykhonsu (shabti-decree front)
Wood, 28.9 by 16.5 cm
21st Dynasty, 975 BC
‘Two almost identical wooden tablets were found in the Royal Cache DB 320 and are now in the British Museum and the Louvre. They record an oracular pronouncement of Amun that a set of shabtis (servant figures) should work only for their owner, who is consequently exempt from other tasks, and that the ownership of the shabtis is indeed vested in the woman who bought them.’ Source
British Museum, London EA 16672
Photo: British Museum

Nesykhonsu (shabti-decree back)
Wood, 28.9 by 16.5 cm
21st Dynasty, 975 BC
British Museum, London EA 16672
Photo: British Museum

Nesykhonsu (shabti-decree front)
Wood, 27.9 by 16.5 cm by 1,4 cm
21st Dynasty, 975 BC
Louvre, Paris E6858
Photo: VB

Nesykhonsu (shabti-decree back)
Wood, 27.9 by 16.5 cm by 1,4 cm
21st Dynasty, 975 BC
Louvre, Paris E6858
Photo: VB

9. Nestanebetisheru – ns-tA-nbt-iSrw

Priestess

Daughter of Pinedjem II and Nesykhonsu. She probably married Djedptahiufankh. In the Cairo Museum I have counted 34 workers and 10 overseers. There should be two shabti boxes, Cairo Museum JE 46887, JE 46892, no photos.

Nestanebetisheru
Worker 1, dark blue
Faience, ca. 14.5 cm
21st Dynasty, 970 BC
Rijksmuseum van Oudheden, Leiden
Photo: VB

Nestanebetisheru
Worker 2, light blue
Faience, ca. 14.5 cm
21st Dynasty, 970 BC
Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, 1884.50
Photo: VB

Nestanebetisheru
Overseer 1, single column of inscription
Faience, ca. 14.5 cm
21st Dynasty, 970 BC
Musée du Louvre, Paris
Photo: VB

Nestanebetisheru
Overseer 2, double column of inscription
Faience, ca. 14.5 cm
21st Dynasty, 970 BC
Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, 1884.51
Photo: VB

10. Djedptahiufankh – Dd-ptH-iwf-anx

Second Prophet of Amun

Djedptahiufankh is assumed to be Nestanebetisheru’s husband. In the Cairo Museum I have counted 62 workers and 17 overseers. Maspero counted three shabti boxes. Aston writes: “Maspero’s count of the boxes may be wrong; two per burial are the norm, and only one (JE 46886) is recorded in the Journal d’Entrée.” David A. Aston, Burial Assemblages of Dynasty 21-25. No photos.

Djedptahiufankh
Worker 1, like worker 2 with column of inscription and priest title
Faience, ca. 11 cm
22nd Dynasty, 935 BC
Cairo Museum
Photo: Edward Loring

Djedptahiufankh
Worker 2, like worker 1 with inscription (without vertical lines) and prince title
Faience, ca. 11 cm
22nd Dynasty, 935 BC
Cairo Museum
Photo: Edward Loring

Djedptahiufankh
Overseer 1, like overseer 2 with name
Faience, ca. 11.2 cm
22nd Dynasty, 935 BC
Dutch private collection
Photo: VB

Djedptahiufankh
Overseer 2, like overseer 1 with title
Faience, ca. 11.2 cm
22nd Dynasty, 935 BC
Swiss private collection
Photo: VB

Shabti coffin Djedptahiufankh
Cairo Museum JE 46886
22nd Dynasty, 935 BC
Cairo Museum
Photo: Edward Loring

Shabti coffin Djedptahiufankh (back)
Cairo Museum JE 46886
22nd Dynasty, 935 BC
Cairo Museum
Photo: Edward Loring

Shabti coffin Djedptahiufankh (top view)
Cairo Museum JE 46886
22nd Dynasty, 935 BC
Cairo Museum
Photo: Edward Loring

Background info

Gaston Maspero’s notes

The Antiquities Service was founded in Cairo in 1858. From that moment on, it was no longer allowed to dig without a licence or without supervision. In addition, all objects first had to be offered to the new Egyptian Museum. There it was decided which antiquities they would keep, and which objects could go to the finders. The contents of as yet undiscovered graves became the property of the Egyptian government. In reality, however, illegal excavation and trading went on for several decades, and there was nothing the Antiquities Service could do about it.

In 1874 the head of the service, Gaston Maspero, discovered that pieces were appearing on the art market that belonged to owners whose tombs had not yet been found. The cartouches, titles and names pointed to a royal tomb. Maspero knew that the objects had to come from an unlicensed tomb, but he could not find out where it was located. Finally, using an American buyer as a decoy, he traced the objects to the Rassul family from Qurnah. A small village close to the tomb, living on the proceeds of tourism and artefacts sold illegally.

Two brothers, one of whom was Ahmed Abd el-Rassul, the finder of the site, were apprehended and tortured at length. Ahmed would need a cane for the rest of his life. The brothers did not confess and had to remain in custody. On June 25, 1881, the third brother, Mohammed, who had not been arrested, finally decided to disclose the location of the tomb to the authorities on the condition that he would receive a reward.

Since Gaston Maspero, the head of the Antiquities Service, was on holiday in France at that point in time, his assistant, Emile Brugsch, decided to immediately leave the Boulaq museum for Luxor, together with an assistant. Accompanied by the brothers they descended into the shaft of the tomb, where they spent some time revelling at what they had found. The corridors and rooms of the tomb were filled to capacity with boxes, royal mummies and all kinds of funerary items. Straight away, Emile Brugsch decided to empty the tomb as soon as possible in order to protect its contents from further theft. In the end, they managed this in less than 48 hours, with 200 workmen.

From a scholarly viewpoint this turned out to be a disaster; virtually nothing had been written down, and later on, Maspero had to rely on verbal statements when writing his report. In the Bulaq museum Maspero also researched the shabtis from DB 320, and a number of interesting notes from his research have been preserved. See the accompanying pictures.

 

Inventory of a shabti box with inscriptions on top for Maatkara, various inscriptions on the shabtis and a total. Photo: Bibliothèque nationale de France. Cahiers de notes épigraphiques de Gaston Maspero.

The page to the left contains notes about a Maatkara overseer and Nesykhonsu: “Nesikhonsu, large box, two types, 12 ex. (overseers) and full of ordinary type (workers)”. Interesting, because compared with my count one overseer is missing. Under the drawing we see the name Nestanebisherou. To the right, various inscriptions on the Pinedjem I shabtis, including one with an empty cartouche. This specific shabti is on display in the Cairo museum in front of his shabti box.
Photo: Bibliothèque nationale de France. Cahiers de notes épigraphiques de Gaston Maspero.

Location of DB 320

In 2012 I had the pleasure of visiting the entrance of the tomb, together with the unsurpassed Egyptologist Huub Pragt and the independent shabti researcher Niek de Haan, and I shot a brief holiday video there and included some data and photos from Edward Grafe and George B. Johnson’s article in KMT, volume fifteen, number three, fall of 2004.