Burial Mask

1926.02.0234

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Basic Information

Artifact Identification Burial Mask   (1926.02.0234)
Classification/
Nomenclature
  1. Communication Artifacts
  2. :
  3. Ceremonial Artifacts
  4. :
  5. Funerary Objects
Artist/Maker None
Geographic Location
Period/Date Roman Empire, Antonine, 2nd century CE
Culture Egyptian, Roman

Physical Analysis

Dimension 1 (Height) 41.0 cm
Dimension 2 (Width) 18.0 cm
Dimension 3 (Depth) 15.0 cm
Weight 1947 g
Measuring Remarks None
Materials Plaster, Stone
Manufacturing Processes Carved, Inlaying
Munsell Color Information Pale Yellowish Pink (7.5YR 9/2) -ns

Research Remarks

Published Description

Featured Artifact Article 2004 138 Egyptian Burial Mask Kira T. Reyna 1926.02.0234 This plaster burial mask of a woman gives us a glimpse into the wealthy burials in the Fayum region of Egypt during the Greco-Roman period (ca. 1st- 4th centuries). It was created by modeling the features of the dead person in plaster. It would then be placed over the face of the mummy to be recognized by the person’s sprit in the afterlife. A large number of mummy portraits and masks have been found in the Fayum region. Research and experiments using CAT scans and X-rays indicate that most of the portraits reflect what the deceased actually looked like around the time of their death. What we see in the mask is most likely what the Egyptian woman looked like thousands of years ago. However, there are also fantastic qualities in this mask, such as the stark contrast of her white face with the solid black eyes that lack pupils. During the Greco Roman period in Egypt, the mixture of peoples living in Egypt brought new artistic influences greatly affecting Egyptian culture. This mask combines new elements, Greek and Roman realistic portraiture, with traditional Egyptian burial practices. Masks also capture the fashion of the time period. The woman’s hair is gathered on the crown of her head with a deep emphasized middle part, which would have been typical for a woman of the upper class. Adjacent to Map The Fayum region was a flourishing metropolitan community in ancient Egypt later occupied number of different contributing cultures, including the Greeks, Romans, Syrians, and Libyans. This area is now rich in archaeological finds. A normal oasis is normally supplied by springs, but the Fayum instead is formed by the Nile mud by the Bahr Yusuf (Canal of Joseph).

Description

Kira T. Reyna
1926.02.0234

This plaster burial mask of a woman gives us a glimpse into the wealthy burials in the Fayum region of Egypt during the Greco-Roman period (ca. 1st- 4th centuries). It was created by modeling the features of the dead person in plaster. It would then be placed over the face of the mummy to be recognized by the person’s sprit in the afterlife.

A large number of mummy portraits and masks have been found in the Fayum region. Research and experiments using CAT scans and X-rays indicate that most of the portraits reflect what the deceased actually looked like around the time of their death. What we see in the mask is most likely what the Egyptian woman looked like thousands of years ago. However, there are also fantastic qualities in this mask, such as the stark contrast of her white face with the solid black eyes that lack pupils.

During the Greco Roman period in Egypt, the mixture of peoples living in Egypt brought new artistic influences greatly affecting Egyptian culture. This mask combines new elements, Greek and Roman realistic portraiture, with traditional Egyptian burial practices.

Masks also capture the fashion of the time period. The woman’s hair is gathered on the crown of her head with a deep emphasized middle part, which would have been typical for a woman of the upper class.

Adjacent to Map
The Fayum region was a flourishing metropolitan community in ancient Egypt later occupied number of different contributing cultures, including the Greeks, Romans, Syrians, and Libyans. This area is now rich in archaeological finds. A normal oasis is normally supplied by springs, but the Fayum instead is formed by the Nile mud by the Bahr Yusuf (Canal of Joseph).

Comparanda N/A
Bibliography

James, T.G.H. Excavating in Egypt: The Egypt Exploration Society 1882-1982. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1982. "This mummy is for real," Heritage 1/2 (May 1982), p. 3. Photo: "21st Century Museum Visitors & Digital Museum Resources", 12/16/2005.

Artifact History

Archaeological Data N/A
Credit Line/Dedication Egypt Exploration Society
Reproduction No
Reproduction Information N/A

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