Reassessment: A Mummy Shroud from the North Carolina Museum of Art

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Title: Reassessment: A Mummy Shroud from the North Carolina Museum of Art
Author: Dopko, Cynthia Hogan
Advisors: S. Thomas Parker, Committee Chair
Abstract: The purpose of this research has been to reassess the dating and iconography of a Roman period mummy shroud entitled, Mummy Portrait of a Young Man from the Fayum, in the collection of the North Carolina Museum of Art. This reevaluation benefited greatly from the recent international scholarship and museum exhibitions done on mummy portraits from Roman Egypt in the past few years. The research for the North Carolina shroud involved analyzing, in detail, the unique symbolic arrangement depicted on the shroud by evaluating each of the object's four registers individually as well as assessing the composition as a whole. This research found that the symbolic content of the shroud, as a whole, possesses a cohesive iconographical message. The registers of the shroud depict the individual, his mummification, revivification, and subsequent rebirth into an afterlife, if read from top to bottom. Further, this research has concluded that the numerous symbols on the shroud support this ritual transformation as well as point to its relationship with the Isiac or Serapion mystery cult. The fourth century date of this shroud has been redated to the third century and the stylistic features of the shroud's design point to an Er-Rubayat provenance. It is hoped that this research will benefit the North Carolina Museum of Art, and enter this mummy shroud into the on-going international scholarship on mummy portraits from Roman Egypt.
Date: 2005-04-20
Degree: MA
Discipline: History

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