Fayum (or Fayoum) mummy portrait of a youth

Mummy with inserted panel painting of encaustic on limewood

From Hawara

A.D. 80-100


This mummy retains the panel inserted over the face (Fayoum portrait). The finely executed portrait depicts a youth with large, deep-set eyes and a down-turned mouth. His downy moustache 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 moustache 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 aboveground for months or even years before final burial. Most probably they were deposited within chapels in cemeteries, where they were visited by relatives for ritual meals.


Metropolitan Museum of Art



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Uploaded on August 24, 2008