The Freud Museum

Coffin mask from male mummy

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2014.102, Coffin mask from male mummy, Roman period (1st c AD - early 2nd c AD)

Artist: Photographer: Ardon Bar Hama
Culture: Egyptian
Material: Plaster (red, black paint on flesh base)

Painted plaster mask from male mummy.  Black paint detail around eyes made of polished stone. Ring sundisc on backside – typical for Roman period masks.

Roman period Egypt: Rome's rule over Egypt officially began with the arrival of Octavian (later called Augustus) in 30 B.C., following his defeat of Marc Antony and Cleopatra in the battle at Actium. Augustus, who presented himself to the people of Egypt as the successor to the pharaohs, dismantled the Ptolemaic monarchy and annexed the country as his personal estate.

The term ‘mummy mask’ refers to the whole covering of a mummy – the head, chest, arms, and the two side covers. There was nothing underneath, it just sat atop the body. This mask is just the head. The faces of the masks were moulded in workshops, generally located near to the cemeteries or necropolises, but all other detail were hand-crafted and painted. Only way real way to date these masks is by comparing hairstyles. Most resemble the Roman Emperors or Empresses of the time, so we can date them by whose hairstyle they are modelled on. Other details of the periods we know very little about, i.e. clothing, jewellery, so it is difficult to date artefacts using these details. This mask has a ring sun-disc on its back side, i.e. the back of the head. This was typical for Roman era mummy masks, as many displayed images of hawks, winged scarabs, or vultures – all with wings representing the soul which could fly away from its tomb to visit the living or to heaven

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