Meretites' Faience Ushebtis: An Analysis and Determination of their Production in a Late Period or Ptolemaic Workshop
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The hundreds of faience shabtis in an individual Late Period burial demanded a significant production effort within a workshop. Petrie's discovery of thousands of molds for small faience objects in Amarna (1891-92) and Memphis (1908-13) led scholars such as Alfred Lucas (1962) and Hans Schneider (1977) to conclude that the majority of faience shabtis were mold-made and then manually detailed as needed. Beyond this, little information remains regarding the exact production methods. Using stylistic analyses and numerous measurements made during my two-year study of the 305 shabtis from the burial assemblage for a wealthy woman named Meretites (380 to 250 BC.; Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art), I determined more precisely how they were manufactured. Within a single atelier, four separate teams of craftsmen each produced a distinct stylistic group of shabtis from start to finish. Besides employing different molds, each team completed the desired detailing of the baskets, hands, and tools, and the incised hieroglyphs in their own unique manner. Variations in glazing indicate that faience recipes and, possibly, firing differed slightly among the work groups. The work teams themselves varied in size and structure. The discrete group of craftsmen staffing each team ranged from at least two to more than four workers. While the production tasks appear evenly divided amongst two craftsmen in one team, the remaining groups contained a primary craftsman supported by one or more workers. Thus, the manufacturing process proves unique to each work team.
Table of Contents
Abstract -- List of Illustrations -- List of Tables -- Egyptian Chronology -- Acknowledgments -- Introduction -- Visual Analyses of the Worker Ushebtis -- Analyses of the Manual Detailing of the Working Ushebtis -- Visual Analyses for the Overseer Ushebtis -- Conclusions -- Appendices -- Bibliography -- Vita.