Egyptian mummy portraits on show in Manchester

19th Jul 2012

They date back more than 2,000 years but the painted faces of the ancient mummies now on show in Manchester could help ignite interest in holidaying in Egypt.

Rarely seen in public, the portraits painted on to the panels covering the mummies' heads form part of an exhibition at the John Rylands Library, having been left to Manchester Museum by Jesse Haworth in 1921.

Cotton magnate Haworth funded the excavations which uncovered them.

Known as Fayum portraits after the region near Cairo where they were unearthed during archaeological digs in 1888 and 1911 by William Flinders Petrie, the paintings date back to around 150AD, a time when Egypt was part of the Roman Empire.

The museum's Egyptology curator Campbell Price said: "What is particularly fascinating about them is that the people portrayed by the artists often look as if they are Greek and Roman, rather than traditionally Egyptian, indicating just how much of a melting pot Egypt was 2,000 years ago."

Mr Price said officials were "incredibly excited" to be showing the portraits which formed part of Haworth's private Egyptology collection.

It is thought people checking out the exhibition could be left tempted to see the ancient relics of the land which spawned the artefacts.

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