Mummy Portrait of a Man

Image courtesy of the Chicago Art Institute

This mummy portrait was found in Fayum, Egypt (as were many others), and dates back to the second century A.D. It belongs to the collection of the Chicago Art Institute¬†but isn’t currently on display.

Mummy portraits start showing up in Egypt by the Roman period. It’s a trend that lasts about 200 years. These portraits, as you may have already guessed, were included in the mummy of people. Studies were done to evaluate how realistic they were, using techniques of facial surgery, and it turns out that these portraits are generally quite accurate in their depictions.

Usually, these portraits were painted on wooden boards using pigments, wax, and gold leaf. Some of them can be dated by the hairstyles of fashion and jewelry represented on them (because typology is awesome like that).

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Senet/ Twenty Squares Game Box

Image courtesy of the Met museum

This is an ivory game box and pieces found in a sarcophagus in Thebes (Egypt) and dating back to 1635-1458 BCE. This particular one is on display at the Met Museum in New York but I had the intention of posting a similar one that can be admired at the Beirut National Museum; and that is in better condition as it does not have modern wood panels to reconstruct it. Unfortunately I couldn’t find good pictures of it.

Anyway this box also serves as the board for two games: Twenty squares on one side, in which the players had to race towards the central square; and Senet on the other, another racing game. The two weird looking pieces that are different from the game pieces are knuckle bones and were used as a dice. If you’re interested in learning more about the games, the Met has a great blog post about it which you can find here.

Image courtesy of the Met museum

Ibis Figurine

Image courtesy of the Museum of Fine Arts

I saw this cute Ibis figurine on display when I visited the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. Don’t let the picture fool you, it is actually only 3cm tall. This figurine is made of gold and two different tones of blue copper enamels. It dates back to the 4th century B.C.E (during the Ptolemaic period), and may come from Alexandria.

The Ibis was an important symbol in Ancient Egypt; as it was one of the forms that the god Thot took, and the hieroglyph that represented him. Thot was the god of learning, knowlege, culture, and the arts. There are many known depictions of ibises as well as some mummies  all over Egypt, going as far back as the Middle Kingdom.