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Gallery 19: Case 19

Late Period to Islamic burial practices

During the Late Period traditional mummification practices continued. Officials and other wealthy Egyptians could afford elaborate coffins, either stone or painted.

Most Hellenistic Greeks in Egypt (about 320-30 BC) preferred cremation. In third-century BC Alexandria the ashes were often placed in a hydria (water jar), on which the name of the dead person might be inscribed. The jar would then be placed either in an individual tomb, or more often in a loculus (sealed niche) within a larger, subterranean funerary complex.

In Roman Egypt similar practices continued, though simple burial was also practised. Others chose mummification, but bodies were now simply dried and bound with linen, the organs remaining intact. Tomb scenes, however, still show traditional mummification practices. Instead of stylised faces naturalistic portraits were now painted on wooden panels. Some of these may be accurate portraits of the dead, painted during life or shortly after death.

Christian and Muslim graves were marked with a headstone, often indicating the name and family of the dead person.

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