Fayum: Excavations (03:27)
In 1887, inhabitants of the area near el-Rubayat discovered and excavated numerous mummies with portraits. Williams Flinders Petrie excavated a crypt near Hawara and Albert Gayet located Antinoe. In addition to the portraiture, archeologists discovered home goods, jewelry, pottery, and manuscripts.
Fayum: Burial Rituals (03:45)
A the beginning of the 1st century, the deceased's face was painted on a material or a mask was created and placed on top of the mummy. Inscriptions were written in Greek or Demotic. The Egyptians and the Greek began to merge their mythologies: Apis and Osiris merged into Serapis.
Fayum: The Portraiture (03:37)
Because there were no identities written on most of the boards, nicknames were created like "The European," "The Tanned Girl," and "The Melancholic One." Men wore a traditional roman toga, while some women wore a pallium. Archeologists can approximately date the portrait by comparing hair styles to busts of the time period.
Fayum: Restoring "The European" (06:34)
Restorers opted for historical accuracy over beauty, removing most of the work that previous conservers had done. Originally the pigments were bound with beeswax which needed to be heated to adhere to the portrait. In "The European" two painting techniques were implemented to create the portrait and a wide spectrum of pigments.
Fayum: Technique (02:11)
By slightly turning the head, the face looks less symmetrical and was more pleasing to the viewer. Eyes were important to the Egyptians. Art historians study similarities between the portraits to discover if it was painted by the same artist.
Fayum: Varied Influences (03:44)
Other artwork of the time denotes the same technique of the portraiture, but most of it was destroyed over time. Portraits were cut down or buried underneath the bandages to display only the face on the mummies.
Fayum: Gold (05:10)
Egyptians believed gold prevented putrefaction. An x-ray shows that "The European" originally was a family portrait and adjusted to become a funereal portrait. Portraits frequently did not display the deceased actual age and families were buried together to reduce cost.
Credits: Fayum [~ 117-138 BC]—Palettes III: Great Artists, Great Art (00:41)
Credits: Fayum [~ 117-138 BC]—Palettes III: Great Artists, Great Art
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