Fayum portraits

The Fayum mummy portraits

These are the portraits of lower Egyptians from the Greco Roman era (Cleopatras era). The burials are mainly of the descendants of the Ptolemaic Egyptian midle class, their local wives and their children.


This isn’t the full range of images, these can be found here, on this page. These are just the images with a better standard of artwork and preservation. Some of the paintings are of a pretty poor artistic standard, and of you look at the full range of them you’ll appreciate why I’ve only posted a few. I have another page, that has just about every good image of mummies and painted funerary portraits of ancient Egyptians here.

There have been quite a few DNA studies on modern Egyptians, and to date, no noticeable amount of DNA from Italy or Greece has been detected, or DNA from anyone other than Arab, Berber and African. The same argument could equally point out that modern Egyptians could actually be darker than the ancient because of the Nubian invasion lead by Piye. Other DNA studies on prehistoric North Africa have revealed mostly Caucasian DNA (Taforalt site), and studies of the teeth, skulls and hair monotonously place Egyptians in the same category as modern North Africans – mainly Caucasian, a bit of African ancestry at the South.


7 responses to “Fayum portraits

  1. LMAO squared.

    That Britannica quote is somewhat incorrect, as studies of the mummies show them to be related mostly to the Egyptian population at the time (JD Irish)

    OMG, how desperate are you.. LOL

  2. BTW, Cleopatra was famously there during the Roman occupation.

  3. You have cherry picked your portraits.People in the fayum portraits vary widely,some appear far darker than most meds,some appear indian and arab,some greatly resemble modern day mulattoes – Alicia keys comes to mind.I see myself clearly in many of them and i’m multi racial.I have no doubts there was admixture in these groups.

    One this is for sure they were clearly neither celtic or germanic! but more likely possessed some afro-asiatic origins.People of Sub Saharan ancestry have more no more claim to them than the largely celtic descended people of modern europe and the US.

  4. I only cherry picked the better quality paintings, as some are a bit clumsily done. Yes, a small number do loook Mulatto. I’ve got a much wider collection on this page..

    Or you can go to this site which has pretty much all of them. I should probably put a link to it on the page..


  5. It’s interesting that there could ever be thoughts of ancient Egyptians being lighter than modern ones, based on the short span of Nubian rule i.e. 25th dynasty. Despite some folks’ opinions, not much changed in terms of the racial landscape of the common people, during or after this period. It was the royal classes and officials within all levels of government that changed for the most part (not to mention a diligent effort for restoring more traditional Egyptian cultural practices, like that of architecture and religion – which is peculiar to some, for such a “foreign” people). Yet, in terms of racial influence upon the land, Nubian rule was not much different than that of say, what Hyksos or Lybian occupation may have done to lower Egypt during their periods of rule. But, during the 25th’s occupation, no doubt, many people from beyond the southern border came in and blended in with the landscape. To what extent is certainly not known (maybe Mathilda can dig up some mummy or DNA records on that).

    Anyway, it’s not like the whole of Egyptian society was suddenly “Blackened” or the average Egyptian got several shades darker from that point on (that would be ridiculous and a very typically Western thing to believe). Let’s not forget that many Nubians had some Eurasian ancestry, which is seen in much of the art from the period – thin lips lack of prognathism etc., regardless of how dark-skinned. Also, one look at the paintings, coffin faces, and general art depicting the common people from the Persian period (26th dynasty), will show you no noticable change in the average Egyptian (comparing art from before the 25th’s occupation to after it). So, to suggest there was a significant anthropomorpic change to the extent that even modern Egpytians are now affected (in my opinion) is just plain absurd, and a poor attempt to stigmatize an important – yet short lived Egyptian dynasty and royal class that was indesputably Black African.

  6. Racial Awareness

    Have DNA studies ever been conducted on the Fayum mummies, Mathilda? If so, which ones and what DNA lineages were detected?

    • Yes, but they never publishedthe details. There was a test run done on some of the teeth to see if they could extract the DNA, but they never said what they got out of it.

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