Tuesday, December 7, 2021

About those mummy portraits

I've posted several times about the Fayum Mummy Portraits, a roman era and how the romans were the finest portrait painters for a thousand years.  Well, new scientific testing showed just how true this was:

A facial reconstruction of the mummy of a young child has revealed that his mummy portrait was remarkably realistic. Mummy portraits, a funerary tradition specific to Greco-Roman Egypt, were painted on wood boards and placed over the face of a linen-wrapped mummified body. There are about 1,000 known mummy portraits extant today, most of them discovered in the Fayoum area of Lower Egypt, but less than 100 of them are still attached to their original mummy.


Researchers CT-scanned the mummy and reconstructed the skull from the scans. They then used the scan data and 3D software to reconstruct the eyes, skin, nose and soft tissue. The reconstruction artist was not allowed to see the portrait or even get anything information about it so as not to influence the rendering.

The reconstruction matches the portrait.  Click through to judge for yourself.


Toirdhealbheach Beucail said...

That is incredibly cool. Thank you for sharing, Borepatch.

It does bring to mind our inherent modern bias against the Ancients. Somehow as the "pinnacle of civilization", we seem to think that in every sense, they were crude and unsophisticated (because they do not believe like us). I am working my way through parts of the Anglo-Saxon corpus; they had just the same amount of nuance and thought in their works as we do in ours (in their case, sometimes more).

Jonathan H said...

Have you ever read about Roman plates?
When the Empire was in full swing, even the poorest in remote parts of the Empire ate off nice plates; within 20 years of decline hitting, the richest were eating off worse plates than the poor had been.

ambisinistral said...

So those were actual portraits. In the article I liked to they thought they were just generic -- it did seem kind of odd to just stick a generic portrait onto the caskets.

Old NFO said...

Those are amazing!

Borepatch said...

Jonathan H, I've posted about roman pottery and decline. This is a good example: