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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 4997 times)
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« 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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