Müller, Asja

Ägyptens schöne Gesichter

Die Mumienmasken der römischen Kaiserzeit und ihre Funktion im Totenritual

21.0 x 29.7 cm, 544 p., 239 illustrations color, 99 illustrations b/w, 100 Tafeln, hardback
110,00 €

ISBN: 9783752000221
Table of Contents

Short Description

How do mummy masks act? This question is the starting point for the present investigation, consciously aiming towards a new perspective of research. In contrast to the modern point of view, mummy masks cannot simply be regarded as inanimate objects, but should rather be seen as autonomous entities. Depending on the particular context, they could become subjects and were therefore regarded as agents equal to human beings in antiquity. Therefore, the book seeks to explore how mummy masks acquired such a status and in which situations this happened.


How do mummy masks act? This question is the starting point of the present study, which aims at a change of perspective. Contrary to the prevailing view, mummy masks are regarded here, not as lifeless objects, but as independent entities that could acquire subject status depending on the context in which they were used. In antiquity a mummy mask was an actor of equal status. Investigating how mummy masks were able to become empowered actors and which contexts this occurred in is the primary subject of this book.
To answer this question, three different types of source are evaluated: the outward appearance of the mummy mask (mask body, decorative program, inscriptions), its archaeological context (workshop group, find assemblage in the grave) as well as the ancient texts (documentary papyri, Book of the Dead, embalming ritual, opening of the mouth ritual, book of transformations). A mummy mask’s agency, which can be described as material, communicative and magical, is effective in all these sources, albeit in profoundly different ways. Aspects of portraiture and corporeality are expressed in the outward appearance of the mummy mask, while the communicative agency that it exerts was closely related to its visibility and accessibility in the grave context. The precondition for the magical agency in contrast was its ritual activation during the funeral ceremony and funerary cult.
Consideration of all these aspects makes it possible to describe the status of a mummy mask as patient and agent in different contexts and to identify what role it was accorded as an active medium of cultural exchange in the Hellenistic-Roman koine of the Mediterranean region.

Biographical Note

Asja Müller
Since 2018: Assistant Professor at the Institute of Classical Archaeology, Freie Universität Berlin; Studies of Classical Archaeology, Prehistoric Archaeology, Experimental Archaeology and Egyptology at Leipzig and Exeter (UK); PhD Kiel 2017; Postdoc Research Fellow CRC 1266, project E3 at the Institute of Classical Studies / Classical Archaeology, CAU Kiel, 2016‒2017; Travel Scholarship of the German Archaeological Institute 2017‒2018; research foci: Graeco-Roman Egypt, Funerary Archaeology, Hellenistic Sanctuaries.

Series Description

In the series of “Archäologische Forschungen” (Archaeological Studies), monographs on the various areas of research in Classical Archaeology are published, mainly concentrating on studies concerning architecture, urban research, topography and everyday culture of Greece, Asia Minor, and the periphery of the Greek world. The chronological scope ranges from the beginning of periodized history to late antiquity. The following volumes, partly to be published in sub-series, will present the findings of research and excavations in the Hellenistic and Roman towns of Priene, Aizanoi and Pompeii. “Archäologische Forschungen” are edited by the Head Office of the Deutsches Archäologisches Institut (German Archaeological Institute) in Berlin.


Altertumswissenschaften (125) || Ancient Rome (67) || Ancient World (142) || Ancient history (97) || Archaeology (527) || Archaeology by period / region (444) || Egypt (242) || Historical states, empires & regions (229) || History (835) || Kaiserzeit (8) || Mumien (2) || Mumienmasken (3) || Totenritual || römisch (32)