Mummy with an Inserted Panel Portrait of a Youth

Period: Roman Period

Date: A.D. 80–100

Geography: From Egypt, Fayum, Hawara, BSAE excavations 1910-1911

Medium: Encaustic on limewood, human remains, linen, mummification material

Dimensions: mummy: l. 169 cm (66 9/16 in); w. 45 cm (17 11/16 in)
panel as exposed: l. 38.1 cm (15 in); w. 18 cm (7 1/16 in)

Credit Line: Rogers Fund, 1911

Accession Number: 11.139

Description

This mummy retains the panel inserted over the face. The portrait depicts a youth with large deep-set eyes and a down-turned mouth. His downy moustache indicates that he is no older than his early twenties. A number of mummy portraits represent youths with their first facial hair, a feature that had particular connotations in the Greek-educated society of Roman Egypt. The incipient moustache was both an indicator of the young man's entrance into important social groups and a signal that he was at the prime of sexual attractiveness and vigor.

In this era mummies might be kept above ground for periods of some months up to several years before final burial. Most probably they were deposited in chapels in cemeteries, where they were visited by relatives for ritual meals.

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