Mummy case and portrait of Artemidorus

From Hawara, Egypt
Roman Period, around AD 100-120

A mixture of cultural influences

The mummified body is enclosed in a red-painted stucco casing. A portrait panel has been inserted at the head of the case. It is painted on wood in encaustic, a mixture of pigment and beeswax with a hardening agent such as resin or egg. Below the portrait is a falcon-collar and a series of traditional Egyptian funerary scenes applied in gold leaf. The largest of these shows the god Anubis attending the mummy, which lies on a lion-shaped bier flanked by goddesses (probably Isis and Nephthys). The god Osiris himself is also depicted on a bier, awakening to new life.

The identity of the dead man is preserved in a short, mis-spelled Greek inscription across the breast, which reads: 'Farewell, Artemidorus'. This mummy represents an excellent example of the merging of cultural influences: a Greek personal name, a Roman-style portrait, together with traditional Egyptian funerary practices and motifs.

CT scans have been made of Artemidorus' mummy without removing it from its casing. There is evidence of damage to the bones in the area of the nose, and cracks to the back of the skull. Interestingly, there are no signs of healing. While it is possible that the damage is a result of rough treatment when the body was being mummified, the injuries may have been the result of an assault and may have even been the cause of death. Artemidorus was probably between 18 and 21 when he died, which is in keeping with the age suggested by the mummy's portrait.

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Mummy case and portrait of Artemidorus

Mummy case and portrait of Artemidorus

 

More information

Bibliography

S. Walker and M. Bierbrier, Ancient faces: mummy portrai-1 (London, The British Museum Press, 1997)

C.A.R. Andrews, Egyptian mummies (London, The British Museum Press, 1984)

Dimensions

Height: 171.000 cm

Museum number

EA 21810

YCA5538

Gift of H. Martyn Kennard

Location

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