HARWICH, U.K. – An ancient Egyptian shabti from the famous Deir el-Bahari cache comes for sale at Timeline Auctions in an event spanning Tuesday, December 5 through Saturday, December 9. The blue faience shabti from the tomb of the 21st Dynasty princess Nesitanebisheru is estimated at £25,000-£35,000 ($30,700-$43,000) as part of the five-day sale devoted to antiquities (Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, Day 4, Day 5).
The so-called Deir el-Bahari hoard was discovered in a settlement near Thebes in 1870. Found together in this single chamber were the mummies and funerary equipment of dozens of ancient Egyptian elites, seemingly reburied by priests to hide them from tomb robbers. DNA analysis has subsequently shown that the bodies of the great pharaohs Thutmose III and Ramesses II were among them.
This is one of the many faience ‘worker’ shabtis (burial figures) that was interred with the princess Nesitanebisheru. The daughter of Pinudjem II, a high priest of Amun, and his principal wife Neskhons, she lived circa 980-935 BCE during the 21st Dynasty and the tumultuous era known to Egyptologists as the Third Intermediate Period.
The shabtis that accompanied her to the afterlife were each inscribed in black with columns of hieroglyphic text outlining the duties they would need to perform ‘for the Osiris Nesitanebisheru.’ In this case, the spell tasks the shabti with the moving of soil and the cultivating and irrigating of fields.
The shabti was acquired by the European vendor at the Zurich Antiquities Fair from the Geneva dealership R. Liechti.
Another item imported to the U.K. from continental Europe for sale is a marble head dated to the 2nd-3rd century CE. Unlike many Roman portrait fragments that appear at auction, this does not glorify a goddess or an emperor and instead depicts a Germanic ‘barbarian.’ It was possibly from a relief representing prisoners of war, perhaps part of a monument commemorating the campaigns of Marcus Aurelius along the lower Danube, recorded on his famous column in Piazza Colonna, Rome.
Modeled naturalistically in the round, his face is framed by voluminous short curls, sideburns and a mustache. The head was in a Swiss private collection before it was sold by Christie’s in 2013, and it is now estimated at £25,000-£35,000 ($30,700-$43,000).
From Hellenistic Greece is a silver strainer estimated at £15,000-£20,000 ($18,400-$24,500). Elaborate strainers of this type with handles fashioned with swan head terminals were used at symposia and festive occasions in the 4th and 3rd century CE for filtering out sediments in wine.
Examples similar to this have been found in royal tombs in northern Greece. This example was last sold at Christie’s, New York in 2012 and previously resided in a German private collection.
Estimated at £4,000-£6,000 ($4,900-$7,300) are the plates from a 12th or 13th century klivanion. The 138 iron elements would have been interlaced and attached to an undergarment to form a compact cuirass. The lamellar protection was particularly effective when used by mounted troops as it provided not just protection but enabled free movement due to its loose construction. This survivor comes from a vendor in London and was acquired by his grandfather sometime before the early 1970s.