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Linen wreath of Cleopatra

 

Length: 161.000 cm (max.)

Salt Collection

EA 6707

Room 62-63: Egyptian mummies

    Linen wreath of Cleopatra

    From Qurna, Thebes, Egypt
    Roman period, early 2nd century AD

    This wreath belonged to a young woman called Cleopatra who was just over 17 at her death, some 150 years after her famous namesake, Cleopatra VII. She was one of three generations of the family of Soter buried at Thebes, all of whom lived between AD 109 and 146. During a burial in ancient Egypt wreaths and bouquets were often placed on the top of the outer coffin. These may have been carried by members of the family of the deceased during the funeral procession, and put on the coffin before the tomb was closed. They have been found in both private and royal tombs.

    In Egypt plants of all kinds were associated with life and fertility. Flowers such as the lotus, which opened each morning, were particularly linked with rebirth. The Egyptian word for bouquet was the same as the verb meaning 'to give life'. This play on words was probably quite deliberate, highlighting the symbolic link between the two ideas. This is just one of many examples of word play in the Egyptian language, illustrating the Egyptians' fondness of linguistic games.

    This wreath is unusual in being made entirely of cloth. The inner part of the wreath consists of a bundle of torn linen rags, bound into a roughly circular shape using a longer piece of cloth, now partly unravelled. It is not certain why cloth was used instead of flowers; perhaps because it is more durable

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