Pigment and power dressing in Roman Egypt

This is my favourite post on the British Museum blog (it appeared a couple of years ago). Now that you know about ancient polychromy research and Egyptian blue I can share it with you and it should make sense. (Or you might just think archaeologists and conservation scientists are crazy and this Egypto-Roman sculpture of Horus was actually created by Jim Henson.) Enjoy!

British Museum blog

Limestone sculpture of Horus from Roman EgyptElisabeth R. O’Connell, curator, British Museum

‘That’s one weird looking bird,’ grinned an American student on one of my tours of the Ancient Egypt and Sudan Department study collection for university students last year.

And to Egyptology students he is. And to students of Classical Archaeology too. But that’s rather the point. Roman Egypt (30 BC-AD 642) witnessed some of the most interesting, innovative and transformative combinations of traditions in the ancient world.

The god sits casually on his throne, one sandal-clad foot forward, his knees apart and draped in a garment. From the waist down, he could be any of a number of senior Olympian deities, or Roman emperors masquerading as such. He wears a feathered mail armour shirt that ends just above his elbows. His arms, now broken off, would have held symbols of power, perhaps an orb and sceptre. His cloak, pushed back over his shoulders…

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One thought on “Pigment and power dressing in Roman Egypt

  1. Thanks for re-posting this one, Caroline. He’s really one of my favourites. I am really enjoying your recent posts about your scientific studies of the colours on your collection. Best wishes, Gayle

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