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Grottarossa mummy: an egyptian style mummy from Italy
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anneke
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 07, 2007 1:00 pm    Post subject: Grottarossa mummy: an egyptian style mummy from Italy Reply with quote

Someone was kind enough to lend me Mummies, Disease & Ancient Cutures (edited by A. Cockburn, E. Cockburn and T.A. Reyman).
It's a fascinating read about mummies from all over the world.

There is a description of this mummy of a girl - ca. 8 years old - whose mummy was found in Grottarossa, in the outskirts of Rome.
She was buried in a finely ornamented sarcophagus with deer and boar hunting scenes which may be inspired by one of the books of the Aeneid. (Aeneas and Didi Book IV according to the text).

Some of the characteristics of the skull have lead the researchers to believe the girl was of northern Italian descent. The body is dated to ca. 160-180 AD.

The scenes on the sarcophagus are thought to have some African overtones and have lead some to speculate that there is an Egyptian influence there. The theories range from the girl having lived in Egypt for a short while to her family possibly belonging to one of the egyptian religious groups that were active in Rome at the time.

I found it rather fascinating to read how this mummy showed some of the signs of an egyptian style mummification, but that the girl was apparently Roman and the mummification likely occurred in Rome (based on the weaving techniques used in the linnen, they concluded it was produced in Roman Italy.)

Have any of you heard of other egyptian style mummies found outside of Egypt?

Mummification is a rather involved process. Would there have to be some locations assigned for this process? Would that have been done by people associated with the temple? I know there may not be any answers to these questions, but this mummy poses some interesting questions Smile
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cleopatra_selene
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 08, 2007 10:14 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

it is interesting that she was buried in egyptian style and such..perhaps egypt also had some influence and charm even in ancient times..
unfortunately i dont have any information on mummies found outside of egypt but i had heard of ancient egyptian cave drawings found in the grand canyon but im guessing its just a myth..its one of those mysterious of the modern world or something like that!
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 08, 2007 11:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
I found it rather fascinating to read how this mummy showed some of the signs of an egyptian style mummification, but that the girl was apparently Roman and the mummification likely occurred in Rome (based on the weaving techniques used in the linnen, they concluded it was produced in Roman Italy.)

I've read about the Roman's - on odd occasions - adopting similar burial styles to the ancient Egyptians; but never the actual mummification. As far as I know, they were often disgusted at the Egyptian's idea of mummification.

It makes me wonder what about this mummy was Egyptianised...For example; Did she have her internal organs removed? Was there resins used, and if so, were they the same ones that the Egyptians used? Or, is it only the scenes on the sarcophagus that indicates towards there being an Egyptian/African influence? Idea
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Osiris II
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 08, 2007 5:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Anneke, I think that's the first Egyptian-style burial outside of Egypt.
During the Graco-Roman period, there wer quite a few burials of (particularly Roman) people in the Egyptian manner. Good examples are in Alexandria's catacombs, and also a burial of a young Roman girl in Tuna el-Gibel.
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anneke
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 08, 2007 7:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think you ma be right Osiris. I haven't heard of any others.

There is a page with a photograph of the mummy and the sarcophagus. Not a lot of detail is visible but here is it:
http://www.smatch-international.org/SmatchOrigin.html


I would have to look at the section in the book again to see what the african influences were. My memory says that they didn't really specify.

I did find this abstract of an article"
"In 1964 a mummy of an 8-year-old girl was discovered at Grottarossa, near Rome. The mummy, dated between 150 and 200 A.D., was that of a Caucasian girl, of mid- or north Italic origin, embalmed with procedures characteristic of Egypt's Roman period. Pollen analysis, carried out on resinuous materials collected from different wrappings of the mummy, is interesting due to the presence of pollen grains of Cadaba type, Mimulopsis type and Commiphora. At the present time, the distribution area of these plants is restricted to Northeast Africa and Tropical Africa. Moreover, Cadaba and Mimulopsis are not mentioned in any description of mummification methods or in any medical treatise of ancient times. This fact makes it possible to reopen the discussion about the site of mummification."

link to abstract

I did a google searcg and found this image of a doll buried with the little girl:
http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Image:Doll_Massimo_Inv168191.jpg

Not part of the discussion, but I thought it interesting Very Happy


Back to another point:
"Her body was embalmed and preserved using procedures characteristic of Egypt’s Roman period; her brain and viscera were in situ and could be viewed easily by CT scan."

So she must have been mummified according to some of the "cheaper" methods?

Sorry for the rambling post.....
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Osiris II
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 08, 2007 11:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

not necessarily one of the cheaper methods.
By that time--200 A.D.--the Egyptian process of mummification was concentraited not so much on the preservation of the body, but more on the "look", with fancy mummy wrappings being the norm. It was quite common for the brain to be left in the body. Although leaving the viscara hints at a more rapid burial for some reason.
But, again, it could have been just slopily done! Laughing
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cleopatra_selene
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 09, 2007 9:11 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

wait so let me get this straight...the organs were still inside the mummy?
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kmt_sesh
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 11, 2007 1:47 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

This is very interesting, anneke. Now you have me intrigued by the book. Smile

One of the admirable things about Rome was its tolerance of foreign religions and their rituals and deities. Of course, this was accepted so long as you properly venerated the Roman emperor and observed his cult, lest you be stomped into mush.

Within the precincts of Rome you were certain to find temples and shrines erected to deities from all over the Mediterranean world. Practictioners of these foreign cults often formed memberships in the manner of "clubs," and one's dues for membership would include, among other things, assistance in the payment of and preparations for the burial customs of one's preferred culture.

I can't say for certain to which clique this little girl's family belonged, but we all know of the Romans' fascination for Egypt and of course the popularity of the cult of Isis. I agree with Daughter_Of_SETI that the average Roman citizen rather looked down on mummification as a form of burial, but it's possible this child's family included numerous people from Egypt.

Perhaps she was even born in Egypt into the family of some high-ranking Roman official who subsequently returned to Rome, where the girl then died. Her family may have brought her body to one of these cultic organizations for an Egyptian-style burial. For certain there were plenty of Egyptians living in Rome, and the knowledge to mummify a body such as it was done in Roman times was probably known there.

However, it's true that I also have never heard of an Egyptian-style burial being found in Italy. Very intriguing, that. The sarcophagus is distinctly Roman but the preservation of the body is definitely Egyptian. That little photo of her in the link you provided is difficult to see but she certainly does look like a Roman-period mummy.

Mummification by the Roman times was very different from the earlier periods. A good example is this little girl from the Field Museum, who died in the first or second century CE:



By this time it was rare for evisceration to take place. The excerebration (removal of the brains) was a discarded practice. The average mummy might undergo some amount of desiccation in salts but even this was rather uncommon. Most mummies of the Roman Period appear simply to have been coated with copious amounts of resin and then carefully wrapped, such as in a rhomboid pattern like the girl in the above photo.

P.S. I liked the photo of the girl's doll. Fully articulated! I wonder if she came with mix-and-match outfits reflecting the latest stylish fashions of the times? Razz
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cleopatra_selene
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 11, 2007 3:06 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

ah ok..since she was mummifed egyptain style and could have belonged to an Isis cult because it was popular amongst some romans..does she represent the ostracised roman who wasnt well liked because of her intergration with AE culture or was there no discrimination against such people?
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 11, 2007 11:05 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

kmt_sesh wrote:
However, it's true that I also have never heard of an Egyptian-style burial being found in Italy.

The Pyramid of Cestius is essentially Egyptian in style, being a pyramid-tomb and all, but as far as I know; no mummification. There's also the 'mythological' tomb of Romulus which was the Meta Romuli. Those were influenced by what the Romans had seen in Egypt, I believe.
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kmt_sesh
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 11, 2007 10:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

cleopatra_selene wrote:
Quote:
..does she represent the ostracised roman who wasnt well liked because of her intergration with AE culture or was there no discrimination against such people?


I addressed that above where I wrote: "One of the admirable things about Rome was its tolerance of foreign religions and their rituals and deities. Of course, this was accepted so long as you properly venerated the Roman emperor and observed his cult..."

Foreigners weren't ostracized just because they practiced a different religion. Indeed, Rome absorbed many foreign religions.

Daughter_Of_SETI wrote:
Quote:
The Pyramid of Cestius is essentially Egyptian in style, being a pyramid-tomb and all...


Sorry for my poorly expressed remark there, Henutmire. When I mentioned "Egyptian-style burial" I was referring to the treatment of the deceased's body (in the case of this young girl, mummification). Roman architecture both secular and funerary was sometimes influenced by Egypt, but the body itself usually was handled in a manner customary to Roman tradition.

By the way, where can I order a pyramid like Cestius'? That would be a pretty cool tomb for me. Very Happy
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 11, 2007 10:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

kmt_sesh wrote:
Sorry for my poorly expressed remark there, Henutmire...

It thought that was probably what you meant. Wink

kmt_sesh wrote:
By the way, where can I order a pyramid like Cestius'? That would be a pretty cool tomb for me.

You could always get in touch with Hawass, maybe he'll build you a mini-pyramid on the pyramid complex he's having built to house his own body, Razz then you two could spend eternity in the afterlife together. Twisted Evil
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 22, 2008 6:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

That book is awesome.
I found it in a berkley bookstore for cheap. It's been a good read.
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 24, 2008 9:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Anneke Wrote:
Quote:
Have any of you heard of other egyptian style mummies found outside of Egypt?

Yes!
Several "egyptian style" mummies from the Roman period were found in Rome, Hungary and Austria.
Rome: Under Sixtus IV, Appian Way / under Alexander VI, at Albano / a child's mummy on 16 feb 1964 in Rome in the Via Cassia
Hungary: at Aquincum 2 mummies were found and according to many tourist guides one of them is on display at the museum, unfortunately when I got there in may this info turned out to be outdated; the mummy was no longer on display. Sad
Austia: at Carnuntum mummies with Egyptian sandals have been found
Source: The Egyptian and Egyptianizing Monuments of Imperial Rome by Anne Roullet page 17 footnote 7.

I believe I also read something about egyptian mummification introduced on Malta but I can't recall the source...
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 24, 2008 9:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

As has been said, the Egyptian practice of mummification was generally looked down on by the Greco-Roman world. A prime example of acceptance can be seen in the recently discovered tombs at Bahariya, most of which belonged to people of Roman descent. It seems that the site was chosen as a burial ground because of the presence of the Temple of Ammon close by. Alexander the Great made a pilgrimage there, and was told he was the son of Ammon. I understand that, at that time, his tomb was also thought to be there. The more well-to-do peoples of Bahariya, which was quite a wealthy outpost, thought that locating their tombs close by Alexander's would bring them great luck in the afterlife.
If you look at photos of the mummies taken from there, it is quite apparent that they are Greco-Roman.
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