Friday, February 19, 2016

Mummy portraits

TECHNOLOGY WATCH: Non-Invasive Techniques Offer Clues About Mummy Portraits (Ginger Perales, NewHistorian).
esearchers investigating the ancient paintings of Egyptian mummies have uncovered clues about the methods used by the artists. Referred to as mummy portraits, (or Faiyum mummy portraits – Faiyum being the area where they’re most commonly discovered) they are a type of naturalistic portrait from the Coptic period, painted on wooden boards which were combined with mummy-wrappings and then attached to the head of the deceased. The portraits belong to one of the most highly regarded traditions of art from the classical world – panel painting.

The images examined by the researchers were found on 2,000 year old mummies and would have been painted following their death. Mummy portraits were typically reserved for Egyptian high ranking officials and would have shown them in their prime. Researchers with Northwestern University in Illinois have utilized delicate, non-invasive, forensic technology to reveal the exact colors the artists used as well as their order of application.

As I have said often, non-destructive and non-invasive technologies are the future for the study of material remains of the past. There is a recent post on the use of such technologies on mummy masks here, and follow the links there for more. And see also here and here and links