Height: 54.000 cm
Width: 30.000 cm
Depth: 27.000 cm
Transferred from the Victoria and Albert Museum (1979)
On loan to
Mummy mask of Aphrodite, daughter of Didas
From Hawara, Egypt
about AD 50-70
A young woman aged 20
In the Egyptian funerary tradition this type of gilded mask acted as a substitute for the head of the deceased, and bestowed attributes of various deities, helping them to reach the Afterlife. These masks date from the beginning of the Roman occupation of Egypt from around 30 BC. Some of the masks, like this one, are inscribed with the name of the owner, with additional personal details.
The mask has some sense of an actual portrait. It shows a woman with a sad or stern face, holding a wreath of pink flowers across her chest. She wears a tunic with a vertical purple band, now black, which drapes realistically across her chest. Her black hair is arranged in three tiers of curls, with ringlets dropping to her shoulders. Details of her eyebrows, eyes and lashes are picked out in black and white. The inscription naming her is placed behind the gilded edge of the veil on her head and shoulders. Her jewellery, typical of this type of mask, consists of a pendant on a chain around her neck, decorated with three deities, ball earrings, elaborate snake bracelets and an armlet.
The mask was excavated by W.M. Flinders Petrie at Hawara in 1888. It was given to the Victoria and Albert Museum, whose Trustees presented it to The British Museum in 1979.
S. Walker and M. Bierbrier, Ancient faces: mummy portrai-1 (London, The British Museum Press, 1997)
W.M.F. Petrie, Hawara, Brahma and Arsinoe (London, Field & Tuer, 1889)