Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History



  • Mummy Mask, Roman period, ca. 60–70
    Egyptian; Probably from Meir
    Painted plaster, cartonnage (linen and gesso), and plant fibers; H. 21 in. (53 cm)
    Rogers Fund, 1919 (19.2.6)

    This woman is represented as if lying flat upon a bier. She wears a long Egyptian-style wig made of flax, papyrus, and other plant fibers. Fine plaster has been molded above the wig to imitate a thick garland of white rose petals tipped in pink, into which is set a red stone. On her ivory-colored skin the features are drawn in deep saturated colors. She wears a deep-red tunic with black clavi (vertical bands) and jewelry, including a crescent pendant and snake bracelets. At the lower edge of the tunic, two holes were used for attaching the mask to the mummy.

    The back of the head rests on a support whose sides are elaborately decorated with Egyptian funerary motifs (not seen in this photograph). Directly beneath the top of the head, an elaborate gilded wreath encircles a gilded scarab beetle—symbol of the sun appearing at dawn, a metaphor of rebirth. Below this is a register depicting Egyptian gods, with Osiris (the source of regenerative power) in the center flanked by the goddesses Isis and Nephthys. These deities are accompanied by others as witnesses to the deceased's resurrection. They include Horus (son of Osiris and symbol of his rebirth), Amun (the creator of all life), Thoth (representing time and eternity), Re (symbol of daily life), Tefnut (first female descendant of the creator), Hathor (goddess of birth), and Seshat (recorder of the deceased's deeds).

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  • Mummy Mask, Roman period, ca. 60–70
    Egyptian; Probably from Meir
    Painted plaster, cartonnage (linen and gesso), and plant fibers; H. 21 in. (53 cm)
    Rogers Fund, 1919 (19.2.6)

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