See Lifelike Mummy Portraits From Roman Egypt, Now at Northwestern University
Despite sophisticated preservation methods, it's hard to tell what a 2000-year-old mummy looked like in life from its remains alone. Luckily, there were Greco-Egyptians between the 1st and 3rd centuries who had the forethought to include handy portraits with the mummies they laid to rest. Now, as ScienceNews reports, seven mummy sketches from Roman Egypt are displayed at Northwestern University’s Block Museum of Art.
The exhibit is titled "Paint the Eyes Softer: Mummy Portraits from Roman Egypt," a reference to a note to the artist that was discovered with one of the sketches. The portraits, drawn in ink, chalk, or paint, were fastened to the subjects they represented with the same linens used to wrap the bodies. Mummy and portrait were meant to be joined together for eternity, but after they were discovered, they were separated by excavators. While the pieces have all sustained some damage over the centuries, the images of the faces are fully visible in many.
The mask collection is currently available for the public to view. Visitors wishing to catch them in person can head over to the Block Museum of Art before the show closes April 15.