Fayum Portraits of the National Archaeological Museum and the Benaki Museum: origin, historical context, structural treatment.
Throughout their history ancient Egyptian funerary rituals are well known through the written sources as well as the art. Already by the end of the Ptolemaic period Egyptian burial customs have been transformed. During the Roman Period though, the high importance of the daily objects that have been made for the tombs seems to regenerate. The Fayum mummy portraits combine the burial habits of ancient Egypt and the tradition of mnemonic portraits of the Greek – roman classical world.
Ancient Egyptian funerary rituals are renowned throughout history by written sources and art legacy. Towards the end of the Ptolemaic period, these burial customs experienced significant changes, reaching the Roman Period, during which the significance of the everyday objects made for the tombs was regenerated. More specifically, the Fayum mummy portraits reflect a combination of the burial habits of ancient Egypt and the tradition of mnemonic portraits of the Greek – roman classical world.
In order to examine and analyze the Fayum portraits spectroscopic methods (non-destructive) will be conducted using Raman and XRF, whereas similar studies will be employed in order to compare and evaluate the findings. Therefore, the objective of this study is to provide further insight to:
- Comparison of old (gypsum, calcite) and new practices
- The color palette and common artistic standards
- Adoption of pigments with wide use (gypsum, calcite, coal) and others, imported during the Greco-Roman period (lead white, red of lead)
- Comparison of dyes with other techniques
- Recognition of local laboratories
- Recognition of the origin of the raw materials
Thus, for the purpose of this study, a set of measurements will take place in Benaki museum as well as the National Archaeological Museum and these the result of which, will be embedded to the bibliographic literature and the findings of the analysis. However, as the necessary approval from the museum is currently pending, the research will commence with the review of the existing bibliography and academic studies.
Maria Antigoni Katsigianni