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Gilded cartonnage Roman mask

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Object name: Gilded cartonnage Roman mask

Accession no.: E.103a.1911

Other numbers and markings:

Dimensions: H 74 cm W 42 cm D 20 cm

Brief description:

Cartonnage mummy cover of the head and upper part of the torso of a man moulded in plaster over bandages and reeds. The man wears a toga, with a veil draped over his head; exposing locks of curly hair at the front. His hands are crossed on his chest - he holds a floral garland in his right and papyrus roll in his left. Around the top of the head is a band with a carnelian bead in the centre of a laurel wreath. Both inlaid eyes are lost and the right eye has suffered considerable damage. The whole surface is gilded except for the floral bouquet which is painted pink, the papyrus roll - white, the eyebrows - black, and the back of the head was painted with the four sons of Horus - two on either side.

The cover was found on a mummy of a man at Hawara in a room above the ground rather than in a tomb. It was inserted into the mummy wrappings and was originally held in place by linen straps (traces of which remain) threaded through holes punched in the edges. The eyes of the mask would have been secured with gypsum plaster, fragments of which remain. X-radiography revealed intricate details beneath the crumpled cartonnage leaves on the forehead – a separately made wreath consisting of a hoop of vegetable fibre to which the leaves were tied, together with small plaster berries on vegetable fibre stalks. In the centre of the hoops is a carnelian bead set in plaster.

The mask was found with



c. 30 BC - AD 100

Find spot: Hawara

Further find spot information

Acquisition: Given by the Egypt Exploration Fund

Further acquisition information

Construction, decoration and materials:

Other information


Gilded cartonnage Roman mask from the front

Gilded cartonnage Roman mask resting on its support

Detail of the wreath construction

The goddess Isis depicted on the back of the head

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