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Fayoum mummy portrait, 2nd century, first half CE
Encaustic painting on wood, 34 x 20 cm

Hawara (?), Egypt

The tradition of Egyptian mummy portraits from the Roman period, sometimes called Fayoum portraits, after the place in which they are most commonly found, are of indisputable interest because they bridge three artistic and cultural movements: the Egyptian, Hellenistic and Imperial Roman traditions. Such portraits are the next step in the tradition of mummy funerary masks, although the clothing and hairstyles represented are a legacy of the period of Roman occupation. These paintings were made by Egyptian and Greek artists for the dead of all social classes and are a marvelous example of cultural proliferation during the first centuries of our era, and of the debates between Christianity and the polytheism of the ancient world.

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