From the first major discoveries a century ago, the painted portraits of Roman Egypt were a revelation to scholars and the public alike, and the recent finding of a new cache of these gilded images, which made national headlines, have only heightened their mystery and appeal. Published to coincide with a new major exhibition of these portraits, Ancient Faces is the most comprehensive, up-to-date survey of these astonishing works of art.
Dating from the later period of Roman rule in Egypt, shortly before the birth of Christ, the painted mummy portraits are among the most remarkable products of the ancient world, a fusion of the traditions of pharonic Egypt and the Classical world. They are historical and cultural objects of outstanding importance and beauty, superb works of art that represent some of the earliest known examples of life-like portraiture. Though the subjects of the portraits believed in the traditional Egyptian cults, which offered them a firm prospect of life after death, they also wished to be commemorated in the Roman manner, with their fashion of dress and adornment signaling their status in life. Despite their ancient history, these portraits speak to the modern eye with a beauty and intensity that would be lost to portraiture until the Renaissance.
Table of Contents
Acknowledgements page -- Director’s Foreword -- Map -- Before the Portraits: Burial Practices in Pharaonic Egypt/John Taylor -- Graeco-Roman Portraiture/Kurt Gschwantler -- Mummy Portraits and Roman Portraiture/Susan Walker -- The Fayum and its People/R . S. Bagnall -- Technique Eupkrosyne/C.D oxiadis -- The Discovery of the Mummy Portraits/Morris Bierbrier -- A Note on the Dating of Mummy Portraits/Susan Walker -- CATALOGUE -- Portraits and Mummies from Hawara -- Gilded Masks from Hawara -- Portraits from er-Rubayat (Philadelphia) -- Portraits from Antinoopolis and other Sites -- Portraits of Technical Interest -- Pagan Icons -- Portraits on Painted Plaster Masks -- Stone Funerary Stelae 4 -- Portraits of the Later Third Century ad from Deir el-Bahri and Antinoopolis -- The Cultural and Archaeological Context -- Jewellery -- Papyri 15 -- Portrait -- Select Bibliography 6 -- Glossary -- Egyptian Deities and Chronology -- Lenders to the Exhibition and Photographic Acknowledgements -- Concordance of Catalogue and Museum Numbers.
Susan Walker is Deputy Keeper of the Department of Greek and Roman Antiquities, the British Museum. Her publications include Greek and Roman Portraits and Roman Art.