Mummy with an inserted panel portrait of a youth, 80–100 a.d.; Roman Period
Egypt, Fayum, Hawara (Hawwara, Hawwaret el–Maqta; Adlan), Petrie
Encaustic on limewood, linen, human remains; Mummy: L. 66 9/16 in. (169 cm), W. 17 11/16 in. (45 cm); panel as exposed: L. 15 in. (38.1 cm), W. 7 1/16 in. (18 cm)
Rogers Fund, 1911 (11.139)
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 mustache 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 mustache 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.