Cartonnage and Mummy of an Anonymous Man
Egyptian, Classical, Ancient Near Eastern Art
On View: Temples and Tombs, Martha A. and Robert S. Rubin Gallery, 3rd Floor
This cartonnage illustrates the combination of Egyptian with Classical art in the Roman Period: the idealized portrait includes the hieroglyph for “protection” (a symbol of Isis) as well as a wreath (in the Greek or Roman style). The red symbol on the left shoulder, which can easily be mistaken for a swastika, is actually an ancient Greek symbol for holiness, while at the bottom, the boat of Sokar (a form of the Egyptian sun god) is flanked by jackals.
Mummy of an Anonymous Man was unwrapped in the 1950s (when it was also the subject of a TV show—see the nearby kiosk), and rewrapped in 2010 for this exhibition. Carbon-14 dating conducted in 2009 suggests that this man died between 259 and 398 C.E., confirming the third-century date suggested by the style of the cartonnage.
Human remain, linen, plaster, paint, grass, wood
3rd century C.E.
a: cartonnage: 13 1/4 x 35 7/16 in. (33.7 x 90.0 cm)
b: necklace: 34 1/4 in. (87 cm)
c-d: sheets: 39 3/8 x 84 1/4 in. (100.0 x 214.0 cm)
c-d: fringe: 6 1/8 in. (15.6 cm)
e: approx. height through nose: 8 in. (20.3 cm)
e: approx. width at shoulders: 20 in. (50.8 cm)
e: approx. length: 62 in. (157.5 cm) (show scale)
Charles Edwin Wilbour Fund
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Cartonnage and Mummy of an Anonymous Man, 3rd century C.E. Human remain, linen, plaster, paint, grass, wood, a: cartonnage: 13 1/4 x 35 7/16 in. (33.7 x 90.0 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Charles Edwin Wilbour Fund, 52.128a-e. Creative Commons-BY (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 52.128a_52.128e_PS2.jpg)
overall, a,e, 52.128a_52.128e_PS2.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 2010
"CUR" at the beginning of an image file name means that the image was created by a curatorial staff member. These study images may be digital point-and-shoot photographs, when we don\'t yet have high-quality studio photography, or they may be scans of older negatives, slides, or photographic prints, providing historical documentation of the object.
At time of acquisition, object was described as "Mummy of a man in decorated cartonnage." According to the catalogue sheets for 52.128a-d, in the summer of 1956 the cartonnage was removed from the mummy, the mummy was unwrapped, and the linens and necklace were removed from the mummy as well. The following descriptions and conditions for "a-d" are taken from the catalogue sheets prepared by John D. Cooney which are dated September 10, 1957:
a) Cartonnage from the mummy of a man. Painted plaster on linen; made as an overlay on mummy from head to waist. Face bearded, hands clasp glass cup and fillet. At bottom, debased Sokaris bark flanked by jackals etc. Moulded wreath on forehead, brilliant colors. Condition: Removed from the intact mummy in summer of 1956 and mounted under glass. Paint lightly rubbed in spots but general condition excellent.
b) Necklace (apparently amuletic) removed from neck of mummy. Long, single stand of grass woven into rope with open end at front. This end closed with single strand on which are fastened segments of leaves, duplicated in three similar strands above. Attached to necklace at front center in plain wooden mason's square pierced three times. Condition: In general good but materials are very dry and fragile. Some leaves are broken.
c-d) Pair of plain linen sheets, fringed ends, which formed the outer wrappings of the mummy. Fairly coarse weave. Perhaps household linen used for funerary purposes. No marks on these pieces or any of the companion pieces (disposed of with mummy). Of interest only as dated linen of very late date. Condition: Good. A few holes and stains. Fabric is flexible. The fringe is rather worn, suggesting that linen was long in use.
In 2010 the mummy was re-wrapped reuniting the necklace, linens, and cartonnage. See Conservation Report prepared by Conservator Jakki Godfrey.
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