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
UK hospital accused of selling body parts for booze
2014 07 31
A leading cancer hospital is to be investigated following allegations that one of its staff members exchanged human body samples for whisky and cash.
The calls to investigate Christies NHS foundation trust came after the accusation was made by an anonymous whistleblower, prompting British MP Rosie Cooper to contact the watchdog, the Human Tissue Authority (HTA), the Manchester Evening News reports.
15 dead, over 220 injured as multiple gas explosions hit Taiwan city
2014 07 31
Several blasts have ripped through Kaohsiung, a city in south-western Taiwan, killing 15, injuring over 220 and overturning the cars in the street, the Fire Agency said. The cause is thought to be gas leaks in the sewage system.
The number of those injured is expected to rise, the Fire Department said. Many were also taken to schools across the city ...
TYPOGRAPHICAL ERROR on front page of alleged U.S. criteria for terrorist list
2014 07 31
We highlighted the recent report from Glenn Greenwald’s site, The Intercept, about the United States administration’s ’Terror Watch List’, and how "a 166-page document issued last year by the National Counterterrorism Center, spells out the government’s secret rules for putting individuals on its main terrorist database".
Read: BLACKLISTED: The Secret Government Rulebook For Labeling You a Terrorist
A reader with a sharp ...
Why is the State so obsessed by, and careless with, deadly pathogens?
2014 07 31
Earlier this month, we ran a report on the CDC anthrax blunder. As if that weren’t bad enough, there have been additional exposures since we posted that report. This time, it involved the shipment of live, highly contagious, and deadly H5N1 avian influenza samples.
As previously reported, as many as 841 scientists and staff members at a US Centers for Disease ...
‘Catastrophic’: Hedge fund billionaire Paul Singer warns of EMP
2014 07 31
Imminent: ‘Only a matter of time’ until entire electric grid destroyed by natural or man-made event…
Billionaire hedge fund manager Paul Singer is warning investors – and more broadly, lawmakers and leaders – about the potential destructive power of an electromagnetic pulse, or EMP, which could be triggered by solar events or artificially, via blasts in the atmosphere.
According to Singer, research ...
|More News » |