World Art Treasures: Roman Portraits from Egypt
J-E. Berger: The eye and eternity
Located some one hundred kilometers south of Cairo, Fayyum is a green and fertile region in a vast circular
depression. Its diameter from east to west is approximately 60 kilometers, northwest of the lake of Birket
The ancient Egyptians called this region Mer-our (The Great Lake). Fayyum played a significant role during
the 12th Dynasty, and later under the Ptolemies.
The Fayyum portraits conflict in an intriguing manner, scattered as they are around the world in
museums and collections and, which, here, bring together the image to be viewed as a whole.
An ideal museum, which may be visited city by city, to which we soon become attached, to the
extent that, during the visit, already familiar traits await us, as one of this art's truly
ambiguous features is its ability to multiply effigies which, at first sight, quickly, even
too quickly, elicit a feeling of déjà-vu.