Herakleides was a young man who lived and died in Roman Egypt almost two thousand years ago. This multidisciplinary study of his mummy, which is in the J. Paul Getty Museum's collection and on view at the Getty Villa, highlights the funerary practices and religious beliefs of his world. Through state-of-the-art technology Getty conservators, working with professionals from various other disciplines, sought to determine if the portrait over the mummy's face actually depicted the mummified remains, if precious jewels or amulets were present within the wrappings, and if the age of the mummy could be determined. The investigation was carried out without unwrapping the mummy.
The iconographic symbols decorating the red-painted shroud of Herakleides depict gods and goddesses as well as express a desire for an eternal afterlife. Such concepts, popularly associated with ancient Egypt, remained influential into the time of the Roman Empire. The book concludes by comparing the data from the mummy of Herakleides to similarly decorated red-shrouded portrait mummies in collections worldwide.
Lorelei H. Corcoran is director of the Institute of Egyptian Art & Archaeology at the University of Memphis and the author of Portrait Mummies from Roman Egypt. Marie Svoboda is associate conservator of the Antiquities Conservation Department at the J. Paul Getty Museum.
Available February 2011