Mummy portrait of a woman


British Museum

British Museum

Most mummy portraits that have survived have unfortunately become separated from the mummies to which they were attached. Because of this we rarely know the identities of the subjects.This portrait is painted in encaustic on limewood. The woman is dressed in a mauve tunic, and a mantle of a darker shade. She wears gold ball earrings and a gold necklace with a pendant crescent and circular terminals. The hair is plaited into a bun at the back of the crown, with snail curls around the brow and at the sides of the head. Her hairstyle, costume and jewellery indicate that she died some time during the reign of the Roman emperor Nero (AD54-68). It has been said that the athletic quality of this portrait is more appropriate to that of a man.

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  • Title: Mummy portrait of a woman
  • Date Created: 55/70
  • Physical Dimensions: Height: 41.60cm; Width: 21.50cm
  • External Link: British Museum collection online
  • Technique: encaustic
  • Registration number: 1994,0521.11
  • Place: Excavated/Findspot Hawara
  • Period/culture: Roman Period
  • Material: lime wood; wax
  • Copyright: Photo: © Trustees of the British Museum
  • Acquisition: Transferred from National Gallery. Excavated by Petrie, William Matthew Flinders