The stunning lifelike Fayum mummy portraits of Roman Egypt, 100 BC-200 AD

Mummy drawings have been found throughout Egypt, but are most common in the Faiyum Basin, particularly from Hvara in the Faiyum Basin and the Hadrianic Roman city of Antinopolis.

"Faume Portraits" is usually used as a stylistic, rather than a geographical, description. While the cases of the painted Cartonese mummy date back to the Pharaonic period.

These ancient Egyptian-Roman "death masks" are far more natural than anything seen in the Western Hemisphere for at least the next 600 years.

There's something deeply disturbing about looking at the face of someone who lived a long time ago, and have them look straight at you — tall and level, quizzically — in a way that emulates a direct connection.

The paintings date from the late 1st century BC or the Imperial Roman era from the 1st century AD onwards. It is unclear when their production ended, but recent research suggests the middle of the third century.

They are among the largest groups of very few survivors of the panel painting tradition of the Classical world, which continued in the Byzantine, Eastern Mediterranean and Western traditions of the Classical world, including the local tradition of Coptic iconography in Egypt.

The paintings covered the faces of bodies that had been mummified for burial. Existing examples indicate that they were placed in bands of cloth used to wrap the body.

Almost all have now been separated from the mummies. They usually depict a single person, the head, or the head and upper chest as seen from the front. In terms of artistic tradition, the paintings clearly derive more from Greco-Roman artistic traditions than from Egypt.

Two groups of paintings can be distinguished by technique: one in wax paintings, the other in tempera. The former are usually of higher quality.

About 900 mummy portraits are currently known. Most were found in Fayum's cemetery. Due to Egypt's hot dry climate, the paintings are often very well preserved, often retaining their brilliant colours, which appear to have faded with time.

Under Greco-Roman rule, Egypt hosted a number of Greek settlements, mostly concentrated in Alexandria, but also in a few other cities, where Greek settlers lived with about seven to ten million native Egyptians, or possibly all races. For a total of three to five million, less estimated.

The early Greek settlers of Fayum were soldier-veterans and clerks (noble military officers) who were settled on lands reclaimed by Ptolemaic kings.

Native Egyptians also came to settle in Fayum from across the country, especially the Nile Delta, Upper Egypt, Oxyrhynchus and Memphis, to labor involved in the land reform process, as evidenced by personal names, local cults, and recovered papyri. was. ,

It has been estimated that during the Ptolemaic period 30 percent of the population of Fayum were Greek, with the rest being the original Egyptians. By Roman times, most of the "Greek" population of Fayum was composed of either Hellenized Egyptians or people of mixed Egyptian-Greek origin.

Later, in Roman times, many veterans of the Roman army, who were initially not at least Egyptian, but from different cultural and ethnic backgrounds, settled in the area after the completion of their service, and social Build relationships, and intermarried with the local population.

While generally believed to represent Greek settlers in Egypt, the Fayum paintings instead depict a complex synthesis of the dominant Egyptian culture and the elite Greek minority in the city.

According to various sources, early Ptolemaic Greek colonists married local women and adopted Egyptian religious beliefs, and by Roman times, their descendants were seen by Roman rulers as Egyptians, despite their self-perceptions of being Greek. was.

The illustrations represent the descendants of ancient Greek mercenaries who fought for Alexander the Great, settled in Egypt, and married local women, as well as the native Egyptians who were the majority, many of whom adopted Greek. or adopted Latin names, which were then seen as 'reputation knowledge'.

A DNA study shows genetic continuity between pre-Ptolemaic, Ptolemaic and Roman populations of Egypt, indicating that foreign rule affected the Egyptian population at the genetic level only to a very limited degree.

Age profiles of the people featured

Most of the paintings depict the deceased at a relatively young age, and many show children. According to Susan Walker, C.A.T. The scan shows an age and gender match between the mummy and the image.

She concludes that the age distribution reflects lower life expectancy at that time. It was often believed that wax paintings were completed during the person's life and displayed in their home, a custom that was related to the traditions of Greek art.

Given the evidence suggested by C.A.T., this view is no longer widely valid. Scans of Fayum mummies, as well as Roman census returns. In addition, some paintings were painted directly on the coffin; For example, on the shroud or any other part.

Social Status

The patrons of the paintings apparently belonged to the affluent upper class of military personnel, civil servants and religious dignitaries.

Not everyone could afford a mummy portrait; Many mummies were found without one. Flinders Petrie says that only one or two percent of the mummies he excavated were embellished with paintings.

The rates of mummy portraits do not survive, but it can be assumed that the material costs more than the labor, because in ancient times, painters were appreciated as craftsmen rather than artists.

The position of the "Tomb of the Aline" is interesting in this regard. It contained four mummies: Aline's, two children and her husband.

Unlike his wife and children, the latter was not equipped with a portrait, but with a gilt three-dimensional mask. Perhaps plaster masks would have been preferred if they could be afforded.

Based on literary, archaeological and genetic studies, it appears that the natives depicted were Egyptians, who adopted the dominant Greco-Roman culture. The names of some of the people depicted are known from the inscriptions; They are mainly Greek.

No comments:

Powered by Blogger.