Talk:Fayum mummy portraits

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Former good article nomineeFayum mummy portraits was a Art and architecture good articles nominee, but did not meet the good article criteria at the time. There are suggestions below for improving the article. Once these issues have been addressed, the article can be renominated. Editors may also seek a reassessment of the decision if they believe there was a mistake.
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Did You KnowA fact from this article appeared on Wikipedia's Main Page in the "Did you know?" column on November 8, 2007.

It's about time we had some discussion here[edit]

Firstly, I strongly support the present name, which is very well established for the portraits regardless of the latest spelling of the town name.

Secondly, unless this edit conflict has blown over, I suggest it is time both parties put something here, rather than in their edit summaries. I have no idea what the conflict entails, so would be interested & I hope able to comment impartially. Johnbod 23:50, 28 May 2007 (UTC)

Thanks for taking this initiative, Johnbod. I've tried to start up some dialogue with Egyegy, Zerida, and now also Taharqa, but so far none have responded. I also informed Lanternix of my revert of his page move and why. Not only is the name "fayum" established for the name of the portraits but also for the name of the governate, although Fayyum and Faiyum are also commonly found.
Regarding the content of the article, reliable sources should not be removed without discussion. When two reliable sources conflict, both should be included and the conflict described. — ዮም | (Yom) | TalkcontribsEthiopia 00:19, 29 May 2007 (UTC)

[1]Zerida 02:16, 29 May 2007 (UTC)

Fortunately, there doesn't seem much distance between you, compared to many disputes. The best way might be to start a new version in draft. Coming fresh & ignorant the section has got a bit clogged up stylistically anyway. Johnbod 02:36, 29 May 2007 (UTC)
Sorry, but I don't follow, Johnbod. What do you mean by "there doesn't seem much distance between you, compared to many disputes?" Do you mean there isn't much distance between the viewpoints of the disputing parties?
@Zerida, on my talk page, you claimed that Chapsut misrepresented Stanwick. Can you please explain how? Quotations would be very useful. Also, please explain why Britannica is not a reliable source, given that it is referenced with Egyptological sources. Also, what's your objection to the usage of the Columbia University source? Why is it not reliable? — ዮም | (Yom) | TalkcontribsEthiopia 03:59, 29 May 2007 (UTC)
Can you please explain how? I already explained how it is misrepresented if you've read my post.
Quotations would be very useful. Quotations is your task in fact, not mine, since you insist on basing this claim on that source (which, of course, we can assume you haven't read, correct?)
explain why Britannica is not a reliable source I do not need to explain something I never said! I will, however, add that using this article [2] to substantiate the claim that "the Fayum portraits represent mostly Greek inhabitants of Egypt" is yet another egregious attempt at misrepresentation, either deliberate or borne out of the fact that those who supposedly cite it haven't even read the source (I happen to have full access to the Britannica, FYI). — Zerida 04:26, 29 May 2007 (UTC)
I read your post, where you stated that Stanwick for example does not claim that "the province was of primarily Greek extraction". I do not have access to the source at this time, while you do, so it would be easier if you could simply provide a few citations from page 23 of his work that show that gist of the page does not support this. Remember that we must assume good faith and assume that Chapsut did not misrepresent the sources unless evidence otherwise is provided. Right now it's just your word against his.
Regarding Britannica, sorry, I meant to say "not as reliable/not reliable in comparison to Irish" (as opposed to not reliable), which I believe was what you meant. I, too, have access to the full article, but that's not the source for the claim that the people represented were primarily Greek. It is this article - Egyptian art and architecture in the Greco-Roman period, that makes this claim:
The mummy, or Fayum, portraits are Egyptian only in that they are associated with essentially Egyptian burial customs. Painted in an encaustic technique, they represent mostly Greek inhabitants of Egypt.
ዮም | (Yom) | TalkcontribsEthiopia 04:44, 29 May 2007 (UTC)
...that's not the source for the claim that the people represented were primarily Greek And yet in your version [3], you also use that Britannica article to substantiate the very first sentence!
Right now it's just your word against his [User:Chapsut]... In that case, I'd like to know if s/he is who s/he claims to be [[Wikipedia:Requests_for_checkuser/Case/Taharqa]. — Zerida 05:48, 29 May 2007 (UTC)
I've gotten a chance to inspect the source and it seems that the relvant passage is that "[t]he Fayoum had a relatively high population of Greeks," which is not the same as stating that it was a majority, so we cannot use that source to support that claim. Regarding the second Britannica source, I imagine Chapsut was just using it (incorrectly) to bolster the citation from the first Britannica source, which is enough source for that sentence anyway, so it can be removed if you wish, since it is superfluous. Now, can you elaborate on why you think the Britannica source that I quoted above should not be used? Note that his/her usage of the Bagnall source awaits his/her response. — ዮም | (Yom) | TalkcontribsEthiopia 19:28, 29 May 2007 (UTC)

First, it would help if you stopped attributing to me statements I never said. I had initially asked you to rewrite that section so the relevant sources are not misrepresented and not in contradiction with one another. Since you've done neither and, by your own admission, are not familiar with most of these sources, you made a mess of the article when you "dumped" all the information together, and left the fraudulent citation from Bagnall/Walker inserted by Taharqa. You seem to be under the erroneous impression that articles can be a simple collection of statements if all of them are properly (in this case mostly improperly, but even if properly) cited. This is a very poor way of editing and organizing an encyclopedic article, and I for one refuse to sacrifice the article's quality because a of a couple of editors whose mere interest is the same old, tired topic that has nothing to do with the actual topic of the article at all.

The claim that Faiyum was a Greek colony or that the people represented in the portraits are merely Greek does not correspond with any recent mainstream Egyptological views based on the material evidence I cited in the article, nor with the even more recent bioarchaeological findings. In fact, I should point out that portraits have turned up everywhere from Alexandria to Middle Egypt to Aswan, and they look no different. This one [4] for example is from Antinopolis. The term 'Fayum portraits' came about because so many of them were found at the same time in cemeteries in Faiyum. At any rate, citing Britannica on par with those sources would amount to giving undue weight to a weak claim from what, by Wikipedia's standards, is a tertiary or at best secondary source. The only way this could work is, as in the discussion with John below, the Britannica claim is cited as a once oft-held belief that does not correspond with the archaeological/anthropological evidence; or, alternatively, the article is restored to its original version, when no claims about the ethnicity of the people represented were made to advance a POV. — Zerida 04:22, 30 May 2007 (UTC)

I suspect this is the way to go. Coming at it from an art history angle, I first became aware of sources saying the inhabitants were Greek (before this recent work had been done). It can take many decades for general works, even good ones, to catch up with specialised scholarship, especially when it is from a different field (archaeology). So I think both the old view and the latest should be included, or people seeing something different in a textbook will be puzzled. That is all on the assumption that the "mixed population" is now uncontroversial among specialists, which I have no idea about. Johnbod 12:54, 30 May 2007 (UTC)
I rewrote it per the suggestion, how is this? And on a side-note, I should mention that the people are "Greek", i.e. Hellenes in the sense of the word during the Roman period, similar to the way many people in the Middle East today consider themselves "Arab" despite not actually being Arab. According to Bagnall, 'Hellenes' in fact became a subcategory of "Egyptians" and the people likely considered themselves both Greek and Egyptian regardless of actual ethnic origins. It's an interesting topic in and of itself (with emphasis on it and of itself--not to project modern "racial" concepts onto the ancient peoples). — Zerida 19:29, 30 May 2007 (UTC)
That looks good to me - Yom, what do you think? Back on the teeth: "The dental morphology[8] of the Roman-period Fayum mummies were also compared with those of earlier Egyptian populations and were found to be "much more closely akin" to that of dynastic Egyptians." - it would be good to say compared to what they were "much more closely akin". Oh, and what is a "cleruch"? Johnbod 19:40, 30 May 2007 (UTC)
'Cleruchs' by the way were specifically elite military personnel who were awarded plots of land by the Greek rulers in order to have them resettle along with their families, and relieve population pressure in the major Greek city-states. The practice goes back to Classical times, prior to the Macedonian conquest of Egypt. — Zerida 20:42, 30 May 2007 (UTC)
Thanks for clarifying that & the "other" tooth samples. Johnbod 21:08, 30 May 2007 (UTC)
I'm glad that the Britannica source has been finally included, and the article seems pretty balanced to me now. There was another source (Bagnall & Walker) that Taharqa thought was misrepresented, which I'll leave to her to bring up when her block expires tomorrow. If the Cambridge source Taharqa inserted also says what she says it does, it will have to be compared to the 30% estimate by Walker. — ዮም | (Yom) | TalkcontribsEthiopia 21:30, 1 June 2007 (UTC)

side point[edit]

"Most of the portraits depict the deceased at a relatively young age, and many show children. According to Walker (2000), "CAT scans of all the complete mummies represented [in Walker (2000)] reveal a correspondence of age and, in suitable cases, sex between mummy and image." Walker concludes that the age distribution reflects the low life expectancy at the time. The wax portraits were completed during the life of the individual and displayed in their home,..."

- is there not a contradiction here? How did they know they were going to die young? Johnbod 02:57, 29 May 2007 (UTC)

Hmmm, I don't see the contradiction. C.A.T. scans of the mummies revealed that the age represented by the portraits (which is fairly young overall) corresponds with the actual age at death as can be discerned from the C.A.T. scans themselves—hence, the low life expectancy. There is further evidence, however, from Roman censuses at the time. Also, some 2nd-century portraits indicated age at death. — Zerida 03:16, 29 May 2007 (UTC)
The contradiction is with them being completed during the subject's lifetime and displayed in the home. Then they apparently die fairly soon afterwards.... Johnbod 03:19, 29 May 2007 (UTC)
Ah, I see what you mean. The last statement appears to be a misunderstanding and should be corrected. The view that the portraits were completed during the person's lifetime was often widely held, but it *cannot* be reconciled with the findings based on the C.A.T. scans and the other aforementioned sources, nor with portraits painted directly on a part of the coffin. — Zerida 03:29, 29 May 2007 (UTC)

The subjects of the paintings[edit]

"The dental morphology[8] of the Roman-period Faiyum mummies was also compared with that of earlier Egyptian populations, and was found to be "much more closely akin" to that of dynastic Egyptians than to Greeks or other European populations.[9]"

^Wrong.. Who ever wrote this misinterpreted the reports on the said time period and the Fayum portraits are from the Greek period.. "Greek-Egyptian"(in the words of the author) samples are assessed from the time period stretching from 332 B.C. to 30 B.C... This is from Citation# 9, direct quotes from Irish..

the narrow river valley and its thin strip of habitable land would quickly be populated during the late predynastic expansion. In other words, Egypt ‘‘became a melting pot’’ for the founding groups (Hassan, 1988, p. 135) by the predynastic period and beyond. This is not to say that all the Egyptian samples are dentally homogeneous. The significant MMDs (Table 4) and distribution of samples (Figs. 2, 3, 5) show that there are 4–5 evident outliers: Gebel Ramlah, Lisht, the Greek Egyptians, and perhaps El Hesa or Saqqara.


the lone Greek Egyptian (GEG) sample from Lower Egypt significantly differs from all but the small Roman-period Kharga sample (Table 4). In fact, it was shown to be a major outlier that is divergent from all others (Figs. 2, 3, 5). The Greek Egyptians exhibit the lowest frequencies of UM1 cusp 5, three-rooted UM2, five-cusped LM2, and two-rooted LM2, along with a high incidence of UM3 absence, among others (Table 2). This trait combination is reminiscent of that in Europeans and western Asians (Turner, 1985a; Turner and Markowitz, 1990; Roler, 1992; Lipschultz, 1996; Irish, 1998a).

There you have it and the appropriate corrections were made..Taharqa 21:01, 10 July 2007 (UTC)

Interesting, but firstly please note the first part of your edit was ungrammatical. Secondly it seems the most relevant sample is HAW which consists of teeth from 51 individuals of AD 50-120 (Table 1), from "a burial ground for elite members of the Fayum oasis population", so just coming to the start of the period of the portraits. The GEG sample were 400 or so years older, though quite physically close, being mostly from Saqqara. On page 11 it does indeed say that HAW was "much more closely akin to the seven dynastic samples. Kharga and especially Hawara are most similar....". I note that two skulls, with matching portraits, from Hawara belonging to the British Museum are the stars of the "Proportion and personaily..." paper cited in the article notes (with link). They are dated to AD 55-70 and 80-100. Since the HAW/Hawara teeth were collected by Petrie, the two skulls may very well also have been in this sample. Johnbod 21:21, 10 July 2007 (UTC)

^This is the second time in 1 day that I've made a gross mistake and embarrassed myself, my actions are indeed hasty and I do recognize my folly.. I can understand why I was accused of being disruptive as my edit makes no sense, since the time period in question was indeed much earlier and I have no idea what I was thinking in equating the Greek-Egyptian samples with the Fayum(which for some odd reason I equated with the 3rd century B.C.). I'll just quit while I'm ahead.. I probably would of ended this long ago if someone would of taken the time to point out why I was wrong instead of brushing me off.. Thanx for explainingTaharqa 21:58, 10 July 2007 (UTC)

No problem - I certainly didn't accuse you of being disruptive. Johnbod 01:05, 11 July 2007 (UTC)
I don't have something to add to what John already explained about the study, but I appreciate the spirit in which this was said, Taharqa. — Zerida 02:08, 11 July 2007 (UTC)

Contradictory source?[edit]

Can someone be so kind as to provide a link, page, or direct reference to a quote that disagrees with the notion of classicists and others that that these aren't mostly greek/roman settlers? I've added another source, where is the view that contradicts it, and if there is another view, why isn't it summed up as such? Why should it out weigh the mainstream view provided?Taharqa 00:40, 3 August 2007 (UTC)

Page has consensus that this is agreed view by Egyptologists, which you admitted on this talk page when you apologized for your very poor behavior. Please stop being so disruptive all the time. Egyegy 00:51, 3 August 2007 (UTC)

The page has no consensus on original research, the source wasn't cited and I added a dubious tag, merely asking anyone to quote the reference, provide a citation, or link, or page number, or just some type of reliable source. You have no right to move my tag. I have never apologized for "poor behavior, I apologized for getting some simple dates wrong from the Irish study and not catching a quote from Keita, that others happened to catch. That isn't even an issue with meTaharqa 01:23, 3 August 2007 (UTC)

I checked the source and this is exactly what is stated on page 24..

The ekphora is a Greek rite, and in many respects the portraits reflect an interest in Greek culture. In the Fayum it is likely that the portraits represent members of a group of mercenaries who had fought for Alexander and the early Ptolemies and were granted land after the Fayum had been drained for agricultural use in the early years of ptolemic rule. Everything stated was in this citation.

Ancient Faces: Mummy Portraits from Roman Egypt By Susan Walker, PP24..

Also, I don't believe Irish' dental study to be relevant to the actual "subjects of the paintings, I'm quite sure Egyptians still populated their own country and were the majority, including the Fayum.. Kind of redundant in my opinion..Taharqa 18:32, 3 August 2007 (UTC)

Even if they were (which may well have been the case), the relevant samples of teeth seem to have been collected from the same "elite" burial ground as many of the portraits, so they remain highly relevant. You seem to have changed you position 360 degrees since your last eruption on the scene, but are behaving in a similar fashion. Johnbod 23:07, 3 August 2007 (UTC)
And unfortunately, Taharqa once again has misrepresented the source, and conveniently left out from the quote above the relevant part that contradicts the original research he just inserted in the article. This is what immediately follows the above quotation: The colonists [in the Ptolemaic period] settled and married local women, adopting Egyptian religious belief. By the time of the Roman conquest [400 years later], the population of the Fayum was very mixed. To Roman eyes, the descendants of the colonists were Egyptians, but in their own view the colonists were Greeks, and they represented themselves as such to the Roman authorities... And, of course, we had already discussed these points in the previous threads. — Zerida 01:01, 4 August 2007 (UTC)

Johnbod, refrain from personal attacks and address the issue. I noted that already so obviously I've read it. These are referring to the settlers of the Fayum in general Zerida, after the descendants settled.. While the previous quote directly referred to the "subjects of the paintings" as being descendants of greeks, and afterwards stating that many of the colonists of the Fayum took native wives and that the population as a whole during the Roman period was mixed (which contradicts Irish, further making it problematic as a source in this context).. If they were mixed(the subjects of the paintings), then why are they referred to as descendants of Greek mercenaries, and not descendants of both (greeks have priority)? And I can indeed accept that they (population of the Fayum) were mixed, nowhere near far-fetched, but then you write "instead it is a synthesis of the predominant Egyptian populace and the greek minorities", which contradicts everything.. Not to mention that she still agrees with the two other sources provided (greek descendants/greeks/they identified as greeks, same thing, tho possibly mixed, who knows as these are individuals). I'm not sure what you are trying to say and obviously you're the one who took that out of context. I paraphrased her.. Either way, it indicates that they were descendants of Greeks. So when the previous sources state that "the portraits represent Greek inhabitants", and then Walkers says that the portraits represented descendants of greek mercenaries, I'm not sure how this is conflicting with you overriding those sources and using a weasel word like "instead".. For the life of me I don't see why anyone would leave that out.

My point about Irish was that he didn't study the subjects of the paintings so to apply to that would actually be original research, or it would be redundant since it is already acknowledged that Egyptians still inhabited their own country..

Another thing.. What happened to neutrality? If you have two conflicting sources you give them both equal weight anyways, but there is nothing conflicting here in my opinion.

And Johnhood, first you say..

No problem - I certainly didn't accuse you of being disruptive

^Which you were right about, I wouldn't come here to discuss if I were..

Then you say..

since your last eruption on the scene, but are behaving in a similar fashion.

^I see that I can't trust your word.. I admit to my mistake, that I read the chart wrong, whenever I'm wrong and realize it, I admit it. But personal attacks and wishy washyness in no way helps anything. And I have not turned 360 degrees, if you're referring to when I said that the article was objective, that's before I actually read the sources, which is an error on my part as you should always cite check for accuracy, and important parts were omitted. As far as Irish, I've stated curiosity on its relevance from the beginning. I took into account the context of the material, I simply quoted the relevant passage and also indicated that the Fayum settlers (not specifically the subjects of the portraits) saw themselves as greek (tho a lot of them were mixed), which Zerida seemed to have missed, claiming that I didn't take it into account. Please, I am not trying to be hostile, I'm really not.. Work with me here..Taharqa 01:41, 4 August 2007 (UTC)


The Fayum, a flourishing metropolitan community in ancient Egypt, consisted of Greeks, Egyptians, Syrians, Libyans, and others. A significant Greek population had settled in Egypt following its conquest by Alexander, eventually adopting the customs of the Egyptians. This included mummifying their dead. A portrait of the deceased, painted either in the prime of life or after death, was placed over the person's mummy as a memorial. These are the only surviving encaustic works from ancient times. It is notable how fresh the color has remained due to the protection of the wax. History of Encaustic Art

^My only point is that it is much, much more complex than trying to attribute it to a "predominant Egyptian population" and greek minorities, or "instead" of being Greeks, they were this. By all indication they were Greek more than anything, let's be realistic.

1. It was a Greek custom 2. They identified as Greek 3. The population consisted of many different ethnic groups, no body noted as predominating but it is noted that a significant Greek population migrated to the Fayum and started the custom. 4. They took local wives. The fact that Syrians, Lybians, and Egyptians, and others all coexisted there, "local" does not have to indicate Egyptian unless specified. 5. The Britannica and Egyptologyonline say the exact same thing, that the consensus among classicists and Art historians are that they were Greeks.. 6. Walker says they (subjects of the portraits) were descendants of Greeks who were given land in the Fayum. Then goes on to say that they took local women and by Roman times, the population of the Fayum was very mixed. 7. Irish' study of dental traits in burials in the population indicates that the people he studied weren't actually related to Greeks at all. 8. I reiterate, Walker says the population was very mixed by Roman times, and the portraits represented descendants of Greeks who identified as such, Britannica says that the subjects were greeks, egyptologyonline says that they were greeks, indicates Greek custom and notes a significant greek population, among a complex gestalt other peoples..

I don't see what was wrong with my edit, it reflected the consensus and the only odd ball out is Irish' study of random Egyptian remains that has nothing to do with the subjects of the paintings, the rest of the population, or the modern consensus of who these people were.. It undermines everything said about the subjects and the population, based on a few remains that don't pertain to these greek descendants, who may have been mixed with whatever..Taharqa 02:48, 4 August 2007 (UTC)

Okay Zerida, I agree with your edits[edit]

Thank you for hearing me out.. I swear I wasn't trying to cause trouble and will admit that sometimes I can be overbearing in my approach.. You worded it much better than I did, and yes it reflects what is stated. In the future I hope that we can see eye to eye, at least on some things and not clash. I only saw what I read, and realize that it was omitted from the article and I didn't know why. This is all I ask for. I don't just edit articles and not explain my rationale, and if I'm confused, just point out where like last time, I'm logical and grown enough to accept when I'm mistaken.. Thanx again.. I may or may not continue to discuss Irish and the "predominance claim" of the Egyptians, but as for now, I think we're on common ground.. Thanx Zerida, I admittedly underestimated you..Taharqa 03:00, 4 August 2007 (UTC)

Major extension[edit]

Hi all.

I would like to extend this article, using information available on other wikipedias, especially the German one. I have prepared a preliminary version, merging the information from there with what's here. You can see it on User:Athinaios/Sandbox for the time being.

Normally, I'd be so bold as to simply apply these changes, but in view of previous disputes on this page, perhaps it's better to see whether anyone has an opinion? Please feel free to look at my draft, and comment on my talk page.

Thanks. athinaios 09:53, 2 November 2007 (UTC)

Wow, that is a lot of work. Kudos! In my mind this would definitely bump up the quality of the article a notch. You seem to have incorporated bits and pieces from the original English article, though the emphasis seems to have switched from a Greek to a Roman cultural origin (which may or may not be borne by the cited references).
A thorough copyedit ought to be done on the piece, as there are numerous spelling/grammar errors (plus some wikilinking issues) that pop up that can easily be fixed. These could be fixed in your sandbox version, though I for one always feel a bit uneasy about playing someone else's sandbox. ;-)
I think you should be bold and post your new version over the English article. Then it is up to the rest of us to add content/references as we see fit.
Cheers, and thanks for the good work! Captmondo 12:55, 2 November 2007 (UTC)
OK, I'll be bold and do it. Thanks! And yes, I know it needs some editing for both language and content, but that's the strength of wikipedia. I hope! athinaios 13:02, 2 November 2007 (UTC)
Looks excellent to me, on a first glance. Johnbod 13:07, 2 November 2007 (UTC)


I'm not sure about "Stylistically, these new painted portraits are entirely Roman", and the whole of that section, which then discusses their form in relation to specifically Roman burial practises. I very much doubt we have enough information to justify the opening statement in terms of Roman v Greek. "Graeco-Roman" would I think be better here - I have already done that conversion at several other places. Johnbod 15:05, 2 November 2007 (UTC)

I'm also unsure of that section. I left it more or less in the same shape as on German wikipedia, as I don't feel qualified to simply remove it from the text, although there seem to be some repetitions even within that short section. As far as I know, it's mainly B. "you will be assimilated" Borg's idea. If there indeed were close links with Roman ancestor portraits, that would indeed be much more Roman than "Graeco". Maybe we could simply shorten this section, to say that some scholars argue that the tablets are related to Roman funerary habits, and thus indicated a strong Roman cultural (but not necessarily artistic) influence? athinaios 15:11, 2 November 2007 (UTC)
Well, I would be happier if the style was described as G-R, which I think is all that can be said securely, and a distinction made with the points on the relation of the form to Roman practises, and the style, about which we can't comment for lack of any comparisons. Both these and the Severus tondo might have struck a well-informed contemporary as very Greek, or Alexandrian, in their style of painting, even if the form was typically Roman. I don't think we know enough even to say that there was a distinct Roman painting style - all the famous classical painters were Greek. I will try a version, but anyone please amend. Johnbod 15:18, 2 November 2007 (UTC)
Good call, though I think that statement should be backed up with a citation from somewhere as well (that was the only truly contentious thing, which I noted previously. Similarly, while the stated timeframe is correct for saying with the intro paragraph that they date from Roman Egypt, I had thought they dated to near the end of Ptolemaic rule. Some references are needed to back up these assertions. Captmondo 16:31, 2 November 2007 (UTC)
Hmmm, I'll see if I can find anything. I'm almost certain that none of them are pre-Augustan, but unsure where I read that. I think it is certainly a notable point that the mummy portrait tradition did not evolve in the late 4th, or 3rd, or 2nd centuries, when the Greek and Egyptian elements were already present, but the Roman one was not. They do seem to start happening more or less immediately after full Roman control is established. Like Captmondo and Johnbod, I see them artistically or stylistically as Greek (as far as that can be asserted), but the chronology would suggest that the Roman presence/dominance/impact is somehow connected with their development, perhaps even instrumental to it. I dont think the article needs to say much more than that. athinaios 17:24, 2 November 2007 (UTC)
That last is a point worth making in the article, although I suppose we can't say the tradition didn't exist earlier elsewhere. On dates, it does say (para 2) "They date to the Roman period, probably from the late 1st century BC or the early 1st century AD onwards" Johnbod 18:12, 2 November 2007 (UTC)
I think you're right in that we can't say that the portraits don't have artistic antecedents somewhere, but we can probably say that the mummy portrait tradition does not. It is unlikely to have any outside Egypt (as none of the other East Mediterranean peoples, to my knowledge, did mummify their dead), and it is unlikely tthat there would be an earlier tradition in Egypt itself, as there's no reason why not a single example should have survived (after all, the climatic conditions that led to the survival of the Fayum potraits are the same that preserved material from, say, two or three earlier millennia). athinaios 18:27, 2 November 2007 (UTC)
Have just done a quick Google on the subject, but can't point to anything I would consider definitive saying that they can be dated to Greek/Ptolemaic times. Ran across several now-dead links on a gallery site describing some Fayum mummy images as belonging to the Ptolemaic period, and I even ran across a reference to a talk that linked them stylistically to Byzantine icons (but with no further text save the title unfortunately; for all I know it might have argued against there being a link).
I have some paper-based sources I will consult this evening, and if I find anything will post the results here. Captmondo 18:50, 2 November 2007 (UTC)
I've put in a tentative new version of the paragraph in question. There is now a section referring to the suggested links with Roman ancestor cult (and yes, it is from Borg), and a separate one further down on stylistic issues. Obviously, do change them as you wish... athinaios 18:57, 2 November 2007 (UTC)
Found some: The Metropolitan Museum makes them all 1st to 3rd century AD, as does the very title of the Ancient Faces book ("...from Roman Egypt"), as does this lady from the Petrie Museum. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Athinaios (talkcontribs) 19:07, 2 November 2007 (UTC)


Hi again. I have changed the gallery a bit, so as to avoid images that are in the article itself also turning up in the gallery. I have also added the museums for all the images, with the exception of the bearded young man with the sword-belt. If anyone has an idea where he's on display, can you add that detail? Thanks. athinaios 13:13, 3 November 2007 (UTC)


I think you should nominate this article for Good Article status. It'll need a few more citations, but other than that, it looks ready. -Oreo Priest 12:11, 8 November 2007 (UTC)

Agreed. athinaios, would you up for this? —Preceding unsigned comment added by Captmondo (talkcontribs) 12:15, 8 November 2007 (UTC)
Yep. athinaios 12:25, 8 November 2007 (UTC)
I think the article should certainly pass (after the usual review changes), but since GA needs a "stable" version, you should not nominate for a while. In particular, we have not seen (I think) any comments on the new version from Zerida, Taharqa, Yom & Ghaly in particular, who were the main editors before. As you can see from above, there has been a lot of contention on this page, mostly about issues about which I myself know & care very little. I'd welcome their comments on the new version - If they don't turn up after a while you might ask, Zerida especially, on their talk pages - if they are still active. Johnbod 14:07, 8 November 2007 (UTC)
That seems eminently sensible. Andf the stability is most certainly an important issue. Let's give it till late November, and then see what the situation is. athinaios 15:36, 8 November 2007 (UTC)
Seems to be stable now. Give 'er a try! -Oreo Priest 22:06, 6 December 2007 (UTC)
I agree, she's stable alright. What does one need to do? athinaios (talk) 22:37, 6 December 2007 (UTC)
Just follow the instructions on Wikipedia:Good_article_nominations. Best of luck! Captmondo (talk) 23:00, 6 December 2007 (UTC)
  • Good luck! I agree now is the time. I'll keep an eye out. Johnbod (talk) 15:31, 9 December 2007 (UTC)
The article looks good to me, Johnbod. The issues were resolved (at least in my mind) a while ago, but seeing the article again now, it's even better and more accurate, with plenty of citations. Good job, everyone! — ዮም | (Yom) | TalkcontribsEthiopia 02:56, 10 December 2007 (UTC)


I had to remove the image of the mummy with the portrait still on it from the Metropolitan, as I could not work out where the file (on my computer) came from (I assume a scan), and apparently the legal situation for a mummy as a whole is different from that for just the portrait (as the latter is a two-dimensional work with long-expired copyright). So, does anyone have a good image of a complete protrait mummy, perhaps even the Met one? It would certainly be useful for this article. athinaios (talk) 09:56, 17 December 2007 (UTC)

GA review[edit]

GA review (see here for criteria)
  1. It is reasonably well written.
    a (prose): b (MoS):
    I've detailed below some Manual of Style issues and some prose issues that should be addressed
  2. It is factually accurate and verifiable.
    a (references): b (citations to reliable sources): c (OR):
    I've listed a few places that need citations to avoid Original Research issues as well as one footnote that needs better context to be reliable
  3. It is broad in its coverage.
    a (major aspects): b (focused):
  4. It follows the neutral point of view policy.
    Fair representation without bias:
  5. It is stable.
    No edit wars etc.:
  6. It is illustrated by images, where possible and appropriate.
    a (images are tagged and non-free images have fair use rationales): b (appropriate use with suitable captions):
    I have some concerns about the tags on a few of the images, whether they are correct or not. And some context on the engraving's caption would be good.
  7. Overall:
    Overall, a very interesting article, but needs some details dealt with.

Details that need work:

  • 1 Lede section should be longer for the length of the article. Wikipedia:Lead section suggests three or four paragraphs.
  • 2 General characterisitcs section, the title of this section is very awkward, perhaps use "Background" or "Context"?
I have boldly removed the section header altogether; it now forms part of the lead, helping the previous point I feel. Johnbod (talk) 01:54, 19 January 2008 (UTC)
  • 3 Same section, the second paragraph should be cited to a source.
  • 4 Same section, third paragraph, third sentence the wikilink to Ancient Roman art you might link the whole "greaeco-Roman" word, and link the Greek in the next sentence to the appropriate Greek history article.
  • 5 Same section, fourth and fifth paragraphs, I'd be more comfortable if both paragraphs were fully attributed to a source, especially the fourth paragraph with the sentence "The former are usually of higher quality" which is an opinion and not NPOV without some attribution.
  • 6 History of research section, the Pre-19th century subsection, the paragraph could use a bit of padding, but it's not needed for GA status. Short one and two sentence paragraphs should be avoided whenever possible.
  • 7 Same section and subsection. The last sentence of the second paragraph needs a citation.
  • 8 Same section, Archaelogical study section, last sentence of the paragraph needs a citation because it states an opinion ("Although the published studies are not entirely up to modern standards, they remain the most important source for the find contexts of portrait mummies." is passing judgement on the studies.)
Disagree. That archaeological technique and methodology have improved immensely, and that thus, the pontential to retrieve information from archaeological contexts used to be far lower than now, is not a judgement, but an accepted fact, uncontroversial in the discipline. athinaios | Talk 08:56, 17 January 2008 (UTC)
Told you my art history classes were a long time ago! Consider the idea dealt with. Ealdgyth | Talk 02:10, 19 January 2008 (UTC)
  • 9 Same section, Late 19th and early 20th century collectors subsection, the whole paragraph needs a source citation.
  • 10 Materials, techniques section would be more encyclopedic titled "Materials and techniques"
Done; personally I would like the "art-historical" bit at the end moved up here to keep the more art-historical bits together, plus I think it deserves a higher position (mind you I think I wrote some of it?) Johnbod (talk) 01:54, 19 January 2008 (UTC)
  • 11 Same section, Painted surface subsection. It would be nice to have a source citation for the last sentences which currently are lacking them.
  • 12 Same section, Encaustic, tempera and hybrids subsection might be better retitled as "Painting techniques", and the paragraph in that section could use a citation for the last sentence.
  • 13 Subjects of the paintings, social context section would be more encyclopedic titled "Subjects of the paintings and their social context"
Now "Subjects and social context of the paintings". Johnbod (talk) 01:54, 19 January 2008 (UTC)
  • 14 Same section, Greek-Egyptian elite, perhaps use Graeco-Egyptian elite as the title?
  • 15 Same section, Age profile subsection, the last two sentences need citations, especially the phrase starting "but this view is no longer widely held..."
  • 16 Same section, Social status subsection. First paragraph the last four sentences need a source citation to avoid original research issues.
  • 17 Culture-historical context section would probably sound more encyclopedic titled "Cultural and historical context"
Disagree. Culture-historical is a set phrase, commonly used and with a meaning subtly different from "cultural and historical". athinaios | Talk 08:56, 17 January 2008 (UTC)
You're more likely to be in touch with current phraseology, but remember Wikipedia doesn't just cater to folks who know the subject well, but also the people who just watched some snipped of a Discovery Channel documentary, and want to know more. I am fine with leaving it as it is though. Ealdgyth | Talk 02:10, 19 January 2008 (UTC)
  • 18 Same section, Individualism or otherwise subsection, I'm not pleased by the title of this subsection, but am drawing a blank on suggestions for a different title. Maybe "Individulaistic portraits?" or "Realistic portraits?" And the paragraph needs a source citation.
  • 19 Changed title & rewritten first sentence - cite for last sentence not done.
  • 20 Same section, Style subsection. Paragraph needs (you guessed it!) a source citation.
  • 21 End of the mummy portrait tradition section. I'm assuming that footnote 31 covers all of the beginning of this section, and to be completist and proper it should be cited at the end of each paragraph it relates to.
  • 22 Mummy portraits as sources section, Provincial fashions subsection, needs a citation, as you probably guessed.
  • 23 Same section, Jewellery subsection. Are we following British or American dialect in this article? If it's following one or the other, it should probably get the silly little template plastered on the talk page and be double checked for consistancy. I see "colours" also, so I'm going to guess it's Brit. Being a yank, I'll leave it to one of my colleagues across the Pond to double check for consistency.
  • 24 Same section and subsection, first paragraph needs a citation. (Is it covered by footnote 35? If so, it needs a citation at the end of each paragraph.)
  • 25 Bibliography. The sources should be alphabetized by last name of the author, as per Wikipedia:Layout
  • 26 Footnote 37, is it from a book? Or an online website? Without context it isn't a reliable source, and needs more context.
  • 27 Images. I'm assuming that the images from Berlin and from the Metropolitan Museum are good to go, since the US and Germany allow the use of the PD-Art tag on Commons. However, Image:Fayum-22.jpg and Image:Fayum-13.jpg say they are from the British Museum so it may not be correctly tagged with PD-Art on Commons. Same for Image:Fayum-11.jpg which is in Scotland. However, I am no expert on image policy, so take that with a grain of salt.
  • 28 I'd like to see a context for the image Image:Della-valle-in-sakkara.gif, giving the date and place it was published in the caption.

I've put the article's nomination on hold for seven days to allow folks time to address these issues. If you have questions, or disagree with something I've detailed, feel free to contact me on the article talk page or on my talk page to discuss. If you need more time to address the concerns, but progress is being made, I have no problems with extending the time limit. Please don't be discouraged by the length of the list above, I found the article very interesting and informative. Ealdgyth | Talk 21:08, 16 January 2008 (UTC)

Thanks for the detailed review. As the major contributor (actually translator, really), in the run-up to this GA submission, I'd like to be involved in trying to improve this article along the lines you suggest, especially as regards citations. There is, however, no way that I can do anything within the next 8 or 10 days, due to other (non-wiki) commitments. Can the hold be extended accordingly by any chance? athinaios | Talk 07:15, 17 January 2008 (UTC)
Certainly, I have no issues at all with extending it a bit, it's a very interesting subject, and a good start on the article. I'd be glad to help out with small changes if it was more in my line of expertise, but I just don't have the current sources. My art history classes in college were a LONG time ago! Consider yourself having two weeks, is that enough? Ealdgyth | Talk 14:16, 17 January 2008 (UTC)

I'm a little bored of such texts in english (not my mother language), so I only read the Beginning. If there are question I can help to answer, please ask. Maybe for things who need to cited or so on. Marcus Cyron (talk) 23:00, 18 January 2008 (UTC)

Not sure will I make the deadline. I am mostly wiki-absent right now, as my laptop (notebook) died last week, and I cannot replace it quite yet... athinaios | Talk 10:24, 26 January 2008 (UTC)
Would you be able to prepare a list of citation requests for Marcus? Btw, is it too much to ask for reviewers to NUMBER great lists of points? Johnbod (talk) 14:42, 26 January 2008 (UTC)
The last time I numbered, the editors went in and interspersed comments, destroying the numbering. However, I just went through and numbered for ya'll (and then fixed my fumblefingered ness) I wouldn't have minded if ya'll had done it yourselves, either. And I'm more than happy to extend the time a bit, it's not a hard deadline. Ealdgyth | Talk 15:28, 26 January 2008 (UTC)
Thanks - if they are numbered it is easier to enforce commenting below. Johnbod (talk) 15:34, 26 January 2008 (UTC)

Hate to be a nag, but does it look like things will be able to be worked on in the near future? Ealdgyth | Talk 06:53, 4 February 2008 (UTC)

I hate to do this, but there has been no editing on the article for over 8 days, and no reply to my request for what's up, so I'm failing this article. Please feel free to address the concerns above and renominate after they have been addressed.Ealdgyth | Talk 15:37, 8 February 2008 (UTC)


ًWould you please consider this article? FACE the Ancestors Fayum Portraits By Wael Nawara

Also, See This Video - very long, so removed, but can be seen in the page history. Johnbod (talk) 13:48, 23 June 2008 (UTC)


Detail of a still-incomplete portrait mummy

Please clarify the reason why this picture is described as "still-incomplete"?. I have looked at its Commons page and note that the description there says the same thing.

I can't see any signs of incompleteness. Since the wreath has been gilded, surely the last stage of the work, the evidence suggests otherwise. The panel is considerably damaged on one side and the paint is in rather poor condition all over. Perhaps this has given rise to the suggestion of incompleteness. Amandajm (talk) 12:39, 28 October 2009 (UTC)

I agree that that is poorly spelled out. Am guessing that the "damage" you point out on the right side is in fact the underlying, unpainted layer, if it is in fact incomplete and not simply damaged.
It appears to be the same mummy portrait that can be seen on the MOMA's own Web site [5] and there is no mention of it being "unfinished".
A further investigation turns up a more detailed reference to this portrait on Google Books [6] and there is no mention of this being an "unfinished" portrait. Given this I think we can safely say that this portrait is as "complete" as it could be. Captmondo (talk) 16:40, 28 October 2009 (UTC)
What we are seeing here is several layers in the building up of the picture. The lowest layer is the unpainted fine-grained orangish wood that appears in a patch near his neck. Surrounding that, and above it in a larger patch if the primer or undercoat, the greyish paint. Over that is the painting itself with the gilding of the headdress being the final stage.
I think that "unfinished" is simply a misunderstanding by someoneone who uploaded the photo. Amandajm (talk) 10:05, 29 October 2009 (UTC)
Comment: An alarming number of these portraits are of pubescent youths- a far greater percentage than one would reasonably expect. This lad, just sprouting a bit of down on his top lip, looks decidedly agro. One wonders how he died, and why so many of these young lads are shown with wreaths on their heads. Amandajm (talk) 10:10, 29 October 2009 (UTC)
Actually, if you look at the Google Book reference that looks at this painting and the mummy, there is a wide disparity between the image and the age of the deceased -- the picture depicts a young teenager, but it is associated with a mummy in his early 30s. It seems like it was either a mixup or simply was the only portrait that existed of the young man. Captmondo (talk) 14:17, 29 October 2009 (UTC)

Who did this analysis?[edit]

Analyses have shown that the painters depicted faces according to conventions in a repetitive and formulaic way, albeit with a variety of hairstyles and beards. They appear to have worked from a number of standard types without making detailed observations of the unique facial proportions of specific individuals which give each face its own personality.

I think that this is total and absolute nonsense! Some of the cheaper artists may have used standard models. However, among the better pictures, the diversity of facial types is one of the intresting and delightful features. There is more difference here than you get in a row of Beauties painted by Peter Lely, for example. Amandajm (talk) 12:12, 29 October 2009 (UTC)
To be fair though, you have an opinion, and another WP contributor as stated this as the scholarly consensus. I note that that section does not have any citation to back up that assertion, so I suggest adding a citation request to it. If you are able to back up your opinion with a similar citation, I suggest you add it to the article as well.
Given the fact that this practice was carried out for at least three centuries, and that there are clear stylistic similarities among several of the pictures in the article (large eyes, the subjects looking straight at the viewer, generally doleful expressions, etc) I would be surprised if there wasn't an underlying formula behind many of these. Still, that is my opinion, and I would want to do some research before posting anything that asserts (or denies) it. Captmondo (talk) 14:36, 29 October 2009 (UTC)

Encaustic vs. tempera - labeling of images sorely needed[edit]

If anyone has access to secure information about which of the included portraits are done in encaustic and which in tempera, it would greatly enhance the article to include this information in the captions. Wareh (talk) 20:22, 20 November 2009 (UTC)

Grammar and Sentence format[edit]

Unfortunately, I do not feel inclined to rewrite large sections of this article for clarity, but that is precisely what needs to happen. Aside from that, certain words are used redundantly. Also, many sections include very poor grammar. Can anybody help? (talk) 20:21, 3 May 2015 (UTC)

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2017 paper on genetics[edit]

User: -- You have added content about a 2017 primary source about genetics,

the last with an edit note I don't want to lose my time with afro-centrist cries. Don't know what that means, but when I noted when I removed the content, it is a) based on a recent, primary source and probably more importantly, b) the source does not discuss the Fayum mummy portraits, so its inclusion here is some kind of [{WP:SYN]]. Please explain why you think content based on this source belongs here at all. We can discuss specifics of content if there is something that makes sense here.... Jytdog (talk) 02:32, 10 June 2017 (UTC)

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