Uncannily Lifelike Roman Masks Recreated in Wax
2014 01 07
By Megan Gannon | YahooNews
Some 2,000 years ago, elite Roman families stuffed their closets with wax masks made in the likeness of their male ancestors so that during funeral processions actors could fill in for the missing links of the genealogical line.
Scholars know about the strange practice from ancient sources, such as the Greek historian Polybius, though none of the masks themselves survive.
Recently, however, a team of researchers at Cornell University made life-cast molds of their own faces to recreate these imagines maiorum, and they found that the wax masks were indeed uncannily lifelike.
The group’s work was presented here at the annual meeting of the Archaeological Institute of America this past weekend.
"I will tell you that I felt awful — simply awful — watching my friend’s face melting in the Crock-Pot," said doctoral student Katherine Jarriel.
With a limited wax supply, Jarriel had to melt down a botched mask she made of her colleague Carrie Fulton’s face, she explained to LiveScience. Her visceral reaction brought home the idea that Romans might have felt very emotionally attached to these ancestor masks, which would have been cast while the men were still living.
"After all, these were potentially masks of people they had known being brought back to life through re-enactment in funeral processions," Jarriel wrote in an email.
Funeral procession or zombie walk?
As the experimenters can attest, wax is a rather sensitive and unstable material. The mockup masks, which were made with a modern recreation of ancient beeswax, have been sitting inside a protected display case at Cornell. But even after a short time, the surface of the skin appears to have tiny pits and holes, Jarriel said.
In Roman times, the masks would have been constantly discolored and degraded by candle flames and smoke as well as the occasional handling during funeral processions and the copying process. (New households forged by marriage needed their own sets of ancestor masks.)
Wax also has quite lifelike properties, and in some ways could be a stand-in for the human body, Alexandridis noted. In ancient times it was used to close wounds and archaeologists have at least one example of a wax sculpture of a man’s head used to replace his decapitated one in his tomb.
Read the full article at: news.yahoo.com
READ: Black Death: Did the plague help finish off the Romans?
AND: Oldest Roman Hairstyle Recreated for First Time
5 reasons you should switch to beeswax candles
Need a filling? Stone Age dentists knew their beeswax
Napoleon death mask blocked from export
Legacy of the African Mask
The Venetian Mask Maker
Scary mystery figure in cloak and mask haunts Swiss woods
2,000-year-old ancient skeleton mask discovered in Turkey
Canadian ’Mask ban’ bill nears final stage : Disguise Yourself, Get 10 Years Prison
Mysterious Greenstone Mask Discovered inside Pyramid of the Sun
Man passes security, boards plane, in silicone-mask disguise
Is It Legal? Viking Funerals
"A Will for the Woods" and Eco-friendly funerals
The Mystery of 97 Dead Roman Babies
Latest News from our Front Page
Detekt: A New Malware Detection Tool That Can Expose Illegitimate State Surveillance
2014 11 21
Recent years have seen a boom in the adoption of surveillance technology by governments around the world, including spyware that provides its purchasers the unchecked ability to target remote Internet users’ computers, to read their personal emails, listen in on private audio calls, record keystrokes and passwords, and remotely activate their computer’s camera or microphone. EFF, together with Amnesty International, ...
New UK spy chief says tech giants aid terrorism, privacy not ‘absolute right’
2014 11 21
Robert Hannigan, the new head of GCHQ
The new head of Britain’s GCHQ, the UK equivalent of the NSA in the U.S., said he believes privacy is not an absolute right and that tech giants must open themselves up to intelligence agencies.
“GCHQ is happy to be part of a mature debate on privacy in the digital age,” Hannigan said. “But privacy ...
LOL: Atheist Feminist Pornographer Used as Moral Authority in T-shirt Row
2014 11 21
Dr. Matt Taylor was thrust into the headlines this last week, largely for his lead role in successfully landing a spacecraft on a comet 300 million miles from earth that travels at a speed of 85,000 mph. In short, Taylor and his colleagues pulled off one of the most amazing achievements in contemporary science and space exploration, and in a ...
Forty Years that Unmade France
2014 11 21
Eric Zemmour is a well-known French author and television personality. Of Algerian-Jewish origin, he may seem an unlikely spokesman for French tradition, but he has emerged in recent years as a prominent scourge of ideological orthodoxy. He is unquestionably the most prominent mainstream French commentator who speaks candidly about race.
This role comes with a price. In 2011 he was ...
Richard Spencer Under Fire
2014 11 21
The Flathead Beacon has a story on the mobbing of Richard Spencer consequent to the publicity over the Budapest conference. The city council is being asked to “an ordinance barring hate-group activities in the community.” As several of the comments note, the First Amendment seems to be of no concern to these activists. The article is interesting ...
|More News » |