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Ruins Of 7,000-Year-Old City Found At Site of "Mummy Portraits"- PICTURES

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Author Topic: Ruins Of 7,000-Year-Old City Found At Site of "Mummy Portraits"- PICTURES  (Read 4141 times)
Bianca
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« on: January 30, 2008, 02:22:44 pm »









                                        Ruins of 7,000-year-old city found in Egypt oasis





Tue Jan 29, 2009
 
CAIRO (AFP) - A team of US archaeologists has discovered the ruins of a city dating back to the period of the first farmers 7,000 years ago in Egypt's Fayyum oasis, the supreme council of antiquities said on Tuesday.
 
"An electromagnetic survey revealed the existence in the Karanis region of a network of walls and roads similar to those constructed during the Greco-Roman period," the council's chief Zahi Hawwas said.

The remnants of the city are "still buried beneath the sand and the details of this discovery will be revealed in due course," Hawwas said.

"The artefacts consist of the remains of walls and houses in terracotta or dressed limestone as well as a large quantity of pottery and the foundations of ovens and grain stores," he added.

The remains date back to the Neolithic period between 5,200 and 4,500 BC.

The local director of antiquities, Ahmed Abdel Alim, said the site was just seven kilometres (four miles) from Fayyum lake and would probably have lain at the water's edge at the time it was inhabited.
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« Reply #1 on: January 30, 2008, 02:34:20 pm »

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« Reply #2 on: January 30, 2008, 02:38:12 pm »

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« Reply #3 on: January 30, 2008, 02:44:38 pm »








                                                     Fayyum mummy portraits




 
Mummy portraits or Fayum mummy portraits (also Faiyum mummy portraits) is the modern term
for a type of realistic painted portraits on wooden boards attached to Egyptian mummies from
Roman Egypt. They belong to the tradition of panel painting, one of the most highly regarded
forms of art in the Classical world. In fact, the Fayum portraits are the only large body of
material from that tradition to have survived.

Mummy portraits have been found in all parts of Egypt, but they are especially common in the
Faiyum Basin, particularly from Hawara and Antinoopolis, hence the common name. "Faiyum
Portraits" should therefore be thought of as a stylistic, rather than a geographic, description.
While painted Cartonnage mummy cases date back to pharaonic times, the Faiyum mummy
portraits were an innovation dating to the time of the Roman occupation of Egypt.

They date to the Roman period, from the late 1st century BC or the early 1st century AD
onwards. It is not clear when their production ended, but recent research suggests the middle
of the third century AD. They are among the largest groups among the very few survivors of
the highly prestigious panel painting tradition of the classical world, which was continued into
Byzantine and Western traditions in the post-classical world, including the local tradition of
Coptic iconography in Egypt.

The portraits were attached to burial mummies at the face, from which almost all have now
been detached.[2] They usually depict a single person, showing the head, or head and upper
chest, viewed frontally. The background is always monochrome, sometimes with decorative
elements. In terms of artistic tradition, the images clearly derive more from Graeco-Roman
traditions than Egyptian ones. The population of the Faiyum area was greatly enhanced by a
wave of Greek immigrants during the Ptolemaic period, initially by veteran soldiers who settled
in the area.

Two groups of portraits can be distinguished by technique: One of encaustic (wax) paintings,
the other in tempera. The former are usually of higher quality.

About 900 mummy portraits are known at present. The majority were found in the necropoleis
of Faiyum. Due to the hot dry Egyptian climate, the paintings are frequently very well preserved,
often retaining their brilliant colours seemingly unfaded by time.
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« Reply #4 on: January 30, 2008, 02:47:21 pm »

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« Reply #5 on: January 30, 2008, 02:49:36 pm »



Fanciful but inauthentic depiction of the mummies'
discovery by Pietro Della Valle









                                                       History of research
 




Pre-19th century



The Italian explorer Pietro della Valle, on a visit to Saqqara-Memphis in 1615, was the first

European to discover and describe mummy portraits. He transported some mummies with

portraits to Europe, which are now in the Albertinum (Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden).
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« Reply #6 on: January 30, 2008, 02:59:25 pm »








                                                    19th century collectors





Although interest in Ancient Egypt steadily increased after that period, further finds of mummy
portraits did not become known before the early 19th century. The provenance of these first
new finds are unclear; they may come from Saqqara as well, or perhaps from Thebes.

In 1820, the Baron of Minotuli acquired several mummy portraits for a German collector, but
they became part of a whole shipload of Egyptian artifacts lost in the North Sea. In 1827,
Léon de Laborde brought two portraits, supposedly found in Memphis, to Europe, one of which
can today be seen at the Louvre, the other in the British Museum. Ippolito Rosellini, a member
of Jean-François Champollion's 1828/29 expedition to Egypt brought a further portrait back to
Florence. It is so similar to de Laborde's specimens that it thought to be from the same source.


 During the 1820s, the British Consul General to Egypt, Henry Salt, sent several further portraits
to Paris and London. Some of them were long considered portraits of the family of the Theban
Archon Pollios Soter, a historical character known from written sources, but this has turned out
to be incorrect.

Once again, a long period elapsed before more mummy portraits came to light.

In 1887, Daniel Marie Fouquet heard of the discovery of numerous portrait mummies in a cave.
He set off to inspect them some days later, but arrived too late, as the finders had used the
painted plaques for firewood during the three previous cold desert nights. Fouquet acquired
the remaining two of what had originally been fifty portraits. While the exact location of this
find is unclear, the likely source is from er-Rubayat.

At that location, not long after Fouquet's visit, the Viennese art trader Theodor Graf found
several further images, which he tried to sell as profitably as possible. He engaged the
famous Leipzig-based Egyptologist Georg Ebers to publish his finds. He produced presentation
folders to advertise his individual finds throughout Europe. Although little was known about
their archaeological find contexts, Graf went as far as to ascribe the portraits to known
Ptolemaic pharaohs by analogy with other works of art, mainly coin portraits.

None of these associations were particularly well argued or convincing, but they gained him
much attention, not least because he gained the support of well-known scholars like Rudolf
Virchow. As a result, mummy portraits became the centre of much attention.

By the late 19th century, their very specific aesthetic made same sought-after collection
pieces, distributed by the global arts trade.
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« Reply #7 on: January 30, 2008, 03:00:45 pm »



The single specimen of Gayet's mummy
portraits from Antinoopolis for which
information on its archaeological context
is available.

The heavily gilt portrait was found in
winter 1905/06 and sold to Berlin in 1907.

Berlin, Egyptian Museum.
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« Reply #8 on: January 30, 2008, 03:15:33 pm »







                                     Archaeological study: Flinders Petrie





In parallel, more scientific engagement with the portraits was beginning. In 1887, the British
archaeologist Flinders Petrie started excavations at Hawara. He discovered a Roman necro-
polis which yielded 81 portrait mummies in the first year of excavation. At an exhibition in
London, these portraits drew large crowds. In the following year, Petrie continued excava-
tions at the same location, but now suffered from the competition of a German and an
Egyptian art dealer. Petrie returned in the winter of 1910/11 and excavated a further 70
portrait mummies, some of them quite badly preserved.

With very few exceptions, Petrie's studies still provide the only examples of mummy portraits
so far found as the result of systematic excavation and published properly. Although the
published studies are not entirely up to modern standards, they remain the most important
source for the find contexts of portrait mummies.




                                     Late 19th and early 20th century collectors





In 1892, the German archaeologist von Kaufmann discovered the so-called "Tomb of Aline",
containing three mummy portraits, which are among the most famous today. Other important
sources of such finds are at Antinoopolis and Akhmim. The French archaeologist Albert Gayet
worked at Antinoopolis and found much relevant material, but his work, like that of many of his
contemporaries, does not satisfy modern standards. His documentation is incomplete, many of
his finds remain without context. Gayet's outspoken interest in occultism and clairvoyance also
tarnished his works.







                                                             Museums





Today, mummy portraits are represented in all important archaeological museums of the world.
Many museums around the world have fine examples of Faiyum mummy portraits on display,
notably the British Museum, the Royal Museum of Scotland, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in
New York and the Louvre in Paris.

Due to the fact that they were mostly recovered through inappropriate and unprofessional
means, virtually all are without archaeological context, a fact which consistently lowers the
quality of archaeological and culture-historical information they provide. As a result, their
overall significance as well as their specific interpretations remain highly controversial.
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« Reply #9 on: January 30, 2008, 03:17:05 pm »



Detail of a still-complete portrait mummy,

Metropolitan Museum of Art.

It was discovered by Flinders Petrie
within a burial chamber in 1911.
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« Reply #10 on: January 30, 2008, 03:18:44 pm »







                                                        Materials and techniques
 




Painted surface



While the majority of preserved mummy portraits were painted on wooden boards or panels, some were
painted directly onto the canvas or rags of the mummy wrapping (cartonnage painting).

To produce the boards, pieces of imported hardwoods, including oak, lime, sycamore, cedar, cypress,
fig, and citrus[9] were cut into thin rectangular pieces and then polished. Sometimes they were primed
with plaster. In some cases, the later painting was first traced. There are a few examples of portraits
being painted over, or both sides of a board being painted, perhaps indicating that the portraits were
produced during the lifetime of their subjects.

The portraits were inserted in a window-like arrangement within the mummy wrapping.





Painting techniques



Two painting techniques can be distinguished: encaustic (wax) painting and egg-based tempera.

There also are examples of hybrid techniques or of variations from the main techniques. The encaustic
images are striking because of the immediate contrast between vivid and rich colours, producing an
"impressionistic" effect, while the tempera ones, with a more differentiated gradation of chalky tones
appear more restrained.[8]. In some cases, gold leaf was used to depict jewellery and wreaths.

Accentuation and differentiation of light and shade are varied to show the location of the light source.

The earlier, higher quality, portraits make more use of background colouring in this regard.
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« Reply #11 on: January 30, 2008, 03:29:15 pm »








                                   Subjects and social context of the paintings





Greeks in Egypt



Under Greco-Roman rule, Egypt hosted several Greek settlements, mostly concentrated
in Alexandria, but also in a few other cities, where Greek settlers lived alongside some
seven to ten million native Egyptians.[10] Faiyum's earliest Greek inhabitants were
soldier-veterans and cleruchs (elite military officials) who were settled by the Ptolemaic
kings on reclaimed lands.

Native Egyptians also came to settle in Faiyum from all over the country, notably the Nile
Delta, Upper Egypt, Oxyrhynchus and Memphis, to undertake the labor involved in the land
reclamation process, as attested by personal names, local cults and recovered papyri.
It is estimated that as much as 30 percent of the population of Faiyum was Greek during
the Ptolemaic period, with the rest being native Egyptians.

By the Roman period, much of the "Greek" population of Faiyum was made-up of either
Hellenized Egyptians or people of mixed Egyptian-Greek origins.





Greek-Egyptian elite



While commonly believed to represent Greek settlers in Egypt, the Faiyum portraits instead
reflect the complex synthesis of the predominant Egyptian culture and that of the elite
Greek minority in the city.[18] According to Walker, the early Ptolemaic Greek colonists
married local women and adopted Egyptian religious beliefs, and by Roman times, their des-
cendants, who are likely represented in the portraits, were "mixed" and were viewed as
Egyptians by the Roman rulers, despite their own self-perception of being Greek.

The dental morphology[20] of the Roman-period Faiyum mummies was also compared with
that of earlier Egyptian populations, and was found to be "much more closely akin" to that
of dynastic Egyptians than to Greeks or other European populations.





Age profile of those depicted



Most of the portraits depict the deceased at a relatively young age, and many show children.

According to Walker (2000), "C.A.T. scans of all the complete mummies represented
[in Walker (2000)] reveal a correspondence of age and, in suitable cases, sex between mummy
and image." Walker concludes that the age distribution reflects the low life expectancy at the
time. It was often believed that the wax portraits were completed during the life of the indivi-
dual and displayed in their home, a custom that belonged to the traditions of Greek art, but
this view is no longer widely held given the evidence suggested by the C.A.T. scans of the
Faiyum mummies, as well as Roman census returns.

In addition, some portraits were painted directly onto the coffin; for example, on a shroud or
another part.
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« Reply #12 on: January 30, 2008, 03:30:44 pm »



Man with sword belt, on display at
the British Museum.
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« Reply #13 on: January 30, 2008, 03:36:18 pm »









                                                     Social status





The patrons of the portraits apparently belonged to the affluent upper class of military
personnel, civil servants and religious dignitaries. Not everyone could afford a mummy
portrait; many mummies were found without one. Flinders Petrie states that only one or
two per cent of the mummies he excavated were embellished with portraits.

The rates for mummy portraits do not survive, but it can be assumed that the material
caused higher costs than the labour, since in antiquity, painters were appreciated as
craftsmen rather than as artists.

The situation from the "Tomb of Aline" is interesting in this regard. It contained four
mummies: those of Aline, of two children and of her husband. Unlike his wife and children,
the latter was not equipped with a portrait but with a gilt three-dimensional mask.
Perhaps plastic masks were preferred if they could be afforded.

 
It is not clear whether those depicted are of Egyptian, Greek or Roman origin, nor whether
the portraits were commonly used by all ethnicities. The name of some of those portrayed
are known from inscriptions, they are of Egyptian, Greek, Graeco-Macedonian and Roman
origin. Hairstyles and clothing are always influenced by Roman fashion.

Women and children are often depicted wearing valuable ornaments and fine garments, men
often wearing specific and elaborate outfits.

Greek inscriptions of names are relatively common, sometimes they include professions.
It is not known whether such inscriptions always reflect reality, or whether they may state
ideal conditions or aspirations rather than true conditions.[24] One single inscriptions is
known to definitely indicate the deceased's profession (a shipowner) correctly.

The mummy of a woman named Hermione also included the term grammatike (γραμματική).
For a long time, it was assumed that this indicated that she was a teacher by profession
(for this reason, Flinders Petrie donated the portrait to Girton College, Cambridge, the first
residential college for women in Britain), but today, it is assumed that the term indicates
her level of education.

Some portraits of men show sword-belts or even pommels, suggesting that they were
members of the Roman military.
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« Reply #14 on: January 30, 2008, 03:38:59 pm »



Three-dimensional funerary masks of painted plaster
 from Faiyum (1st century AD).

Montréal, Musée des Beaux-Arts.
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