Mummy of a young boy with a portrait panel


British Museum

British Museum

The mummy is wrapped in many layers of linen, with the outermost wrappings very carefully arranged. In the Roman period, many mummies have small studs of gilded stucco (plaster) in the centre of each rhombic compartment.A fine portrait panel, known as a 'mummy portrait' has been inserted over the mummy's head. It is painted on wood, using the encaustic technique. The head and neck of the boy occupy the entire frame of the portrait. He wears a tunic with a purple stripe, or clavus, and a white mantle positioned high up around the neck. The short, cropped hairstyle, the clothing depicted and the technique of painting allow us to date the portrait to the early second century AD. A painted cartonnage casing protects the feet, which are represented in the round, wearing thonged sandals.CT scanning of the mummy has revealed that the skeleton is not in good condition. The skull has been detached from the body, and the bones are disarticulated. This perhaps indicates that the corpse was already in an advanced state of decomposition when the embalmers began their work.

Show lessRead more


  • Title: Mummy of a young boy with a portrait panel
  • Date Created: 100/120
  • Physical Dimensions: Length: 138.50mm (mummy); Width: 39.70cm (mummy); Length: 24.00cm (portrait); Depth: 26.50cm (mummy)
  • External Link: British Museum collection online
  • Technique: encaustic; gilded
  • Registration number: 1888,0920.39
  • Place: Found/Acquired Hawara
  • Period/culture: Roman Period
  • Material: human tissue; linen; gold; wax
  • Copyright: Photo: © Trustees of the British Museum
  • Acquisition: Donated by Kennard, Henry Martyn. Excavated by Petrie, William Matthew Flinders