Archaeologists have discovered the first color mummy portraits in more than a century.
The researchers also discovered a burial building, written documents on papyrus, pottery and coffins.
The finds date back to the Ptolemaic period (305-30 BC) up to the Roman era (30 BC-390 AD).
Egyptian archaeologists have discovered color portraits of mummies – the first to be found in more than a century – the Egyptian government has announced.
Researchers found the two complete Egyptian mummy portraits and fragments of others at the Gerza excavation site in Fayoum, Egypt, making these artworks the first of their kind to be discovered in more than 115 years.
English archaeologist Flinders Petrie was the last to find similar artwork when he discovered 146 mummy portraits in a Roman cemetery in 1911, reports Artnet News.
The findings come from an excavation site located in the ruins of the ancient city of Philadelphia, which according to the Austrian Archaeological Institute is located in the northeastern corner of Fayoum, about 75 miles southwest of present-day Cairo. .
The team investigating the Gerza archaeological site in Fayoum also uncovered a burial building, written documents on papyri, pottery and coffins dating from the Ptolemaic period, which spans from 305 BC to 30 BC, to the Roman era, which lasted from 30 BC AD 390
The government said the finds provide fascinating insights into the social, economic and religious conditions of people who lived in Philadelphia (which meant, in ancient Greek, “City of Brotherly Love”) nearly 2,000 years ago.
The collection of paintings, known as the Fayoum portraits, portray some of the wealthiest people who existed in these ancient communities. The Philadelphia settlement was home to Greeks and Egyptians for a period of 600 years.
Basem Gehad, the head of the Ancient Philadelphia Excavation project, which led the latest excavation, wrote in an email to Artnet News that “no one really knows the context of these portraits,” but added: “Now, we can know sure where they came from, and find more.”
In addition to these finds, archaeologists have also revealed a rare terracotta statue of the goddess Isis Aphrodite inside a wooden coffin, according to Artnet.
Gehad told the news the statue “reflects the influence of the Greeks on Egyptian art as a result of [the] new community living there”.
An Egyptian government statement explains that Pharaoh Ptolemy II Philadelphus (309–246 BC) established Philadelphia as an agricultural village intended to secure additional food resources for his empire.
Researchers have been excavating the site since 2016, according to the government.
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