…to the museum spotlight, that is. The Brooklyn Museum blog has been running a feature on the conservation of the mummy of a certain Demetrios, preparing him for the travelling exhibition “To Live Forever“. The mummy was found in Hawara, where Petrie unearthed a substantial assemblage of these funerary portraits known as ‘Fayum portraits’. In his excavation diary, he described the work of his team on 28 December 1910:
We have been doing well. Aly er Rahim got three portrait mummies, 1 very good yesterday…Hasan got 2 Portraits today…We seem to have tapped a region of them, buried several mummies in one grave. These alone are worth more than all we have spent so far. (Quoted from Roberts & Quirke 2007, p. 101).
This is quite a change in sentiment from an entry during his earlier work in 1888, when he lamented that “[f]or two days we have had but one rotten portrait” (Roberts & Quirke 2007, p. 97).
Pyramid and necropolis at Hawara, Egypt. Photo: TMK, May 2008.
Paul C. Roberts & Stephen Quirke. 2007. “Excerpts from the Petrie Journal”, pp. 83-104, in Janet Picton, Stephen Quirke & Paul C. Roberts (eds.) Living Images. Egyptian Funerary Portraits in the Petrie Museum. Walnut Creek, CA: Left Coast Press.