The Freud Museum

Coffin mask

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3858, Coffin mask, Roman period (1st c AD - early 2nd c AD)

Artist: Photographer: Ardon Bar Hama
Culture: Egyptian
Material: Plaster (red, black paint on flesh base)
Dimensions: 19 x 15 x 10 cm

This is a painted plaster mask from a mummy, in flesh tints with hair and eyes. Details are picked out in black, with red paint used on the lips.  The mask has plaited locks, pedunculate earrings with sphere terminals and vestiges of re solar disc with blank uraei at top rear of head.

Rome's rule over Egypt began with the arrival of Octavian (later called Augustus) in 30 B.C.  Egypt's incorporation into the Roman empire led to a new fascination with its ancient culture. Obelisks and Egyptian-style architecture and sculpture were installed in Roman buildings and the cult of Isis, the Egyptian mother goddess, impacted the empire.Changes were also noticeable in Egyptian artistic and religious forms, as Egyptian gods were represented in classicized style. In Egyptian funerary art traditional idealized images gave way to ones accessorized with contemporary Greco-Roman coiffures and dress as influenced by fashions of the imperial court at Rome, and even panel portraits were painted in the illusionistic Greco-Roman style.

By the second century A.D., the economic and social changes in the country emerged more forcefully, gradually evolving as part of a larger pattern of change in the Roman empire that culminates in the Byzantine period.

Additional information from Susan Walker and M.L. Bierbrier  'Ancient Faces: Mummy Portraits from Roman Egypt'  (London: British Museum, 1997)

See this object on our Collections site here

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