I would like to introduce you to Demetrios. Demetrios is a mummy in the Brooklyn Museum collection that will be traveling across the country starting summer 2008 along with over 100 Egyptian artifacts from our collection in an exhibition entitled “To Live Forever, Egyptian Treasures from the Brooklyn Museum“. Demetrios was excavated from a Roman cemetery in Hawara, Egypt in 1911, and is believed to date between 30 B.C. and 395 A.D. After its excavation, it came directly to the Brooklyn Museum. We know the mummy is that of a man named Demetrios, due to the style of the wrapping, and that his name is gilded across the linen wrappings. Also, Demetrios’ portrait was painted on a wooden panel, and inserted into the linens over his face. This is very typical of these Roman Period mummies. What is not very typical of the Roman Period mummies is that the surface of Demetrios’ linens has been covered with red lead paint. There are less than a dozen of these so-called “red shroud mummies” known to exist in the world. The J. Paul Getty Museum in California also has one of these red-shroud mummies, named Herakleides.
The Getty has started to research these mummies, and is visiting collections all over the world to have a closer look. Check back next week to learn about the Getty’s visit to the Brooklyn Museum to look at Demetrios.
Above is an image of a virtual reconstruction of the portrait where it was originally, within the linens of the mummy, as well as a close up of the portrait. The portrait was actually removed from the linens in the 1930′s because the wood was starting to crack and conservators needed better access to treat it. It was then decided to put the portrait on display – and put the mummy back into storage. I’ll discuss our efforts to reunite the two in subsequent blogs.
Tina March is an assistant conservator of objects at the Brooklyn Museum where she has been since receiving her M.A. in Conservation from Buffalo State College in 2001. She has a B.A. in Art Conservation from the University of Delaware. Previous internships include The Art Institute of Chicago, the Guggenheim Museum and The National Museum of the American Indian.