The “Mummy Portraits” of Roman Egypt: Status, Ethnicity, and Magic
The Harvard Museum of the Ancient Near East, Harvard Museums of Science & Culture and Harvard Art Museums present a free, hybrid event on. Thursday, Oct. 6 with Lorelei H. Corcoran, professor of art history and director of the Institute of Egyptian Art & Archaeology at the University of Memphis. In ancient Egypt, one of the final steps in the mummification process was to equip the body with a permanent face covering that helped to protect the head and also to ritually transform the deceased into a god. The earliest examples of these were stylized masks, later replaced by more realistic-looking, painted portraits. Using evidence from the archaeological record and the Book of the Dead—a series of spells meant to guide the dead as they sought eternal life— Lorelei Corcoran will discuss the production and function of the “mummy portraits” that were popular throughout Egypt in the Roman period and what these images reveal about the religious beliefs and multi-layered ethnicities of their subjects. Free parking is available at the 52 Oxford Street Garage. View a related exhibition, "Funerary Portraits from Roman Egypt," at the Harvard Art Museums through December 31.
Image courtesy of Harvard Art Museums: 1939.111