Friday, July 20, 2012

Graeco-Roman mummy portrait exhibition at the John Rylands Library

A news item which seems to have passed unnoticed: the John Rylands library in Manchester, UK, is running an exhibition from today, 19th July until 25th December.

The ten mummy portrait panels and the 40 or so papyri, both from around 2000-years-ago, were mostly found in the Fayum region, south of Cairo.
Dating to the Roman Empire, the portraits and papyri provide a unique insight into how the  Egyptians living under Roman rule saw themselves.
The so-called 'Fayum portraits' were found covering the faces of mummies found by the archaeologist William Flinders Petrie in 1888 and 1911.
Petrie was financed by the wealthy Manchester cotton magnate Jesse Haworth, and most of the portraits came to the University's Manchester Museum as his legacy.
The papyri came to Manchester through acquisitions made by John Rylands Library founder Enriqueta Rylands, from 1901 to her death (1908), and later continued by the Library until 1920.
They include famous pieces, such as one of the two extant Greek fragments of the apocryphal Gospel of Mary, possibly Mary of Magdala, and documents from everyday life such as a contract of marriage and census returns.