Variations on an Osirian Theme: Gendered Expressions of Identity in Osiris Funerary Shrouds from Roman Egypt

Author(s): Lissette Jimenez

Year: 2015


Throughout the Roman Period in Egypt, decorated shrouds with images of the god Osiris were used in mortuary rituals and wrapped around the mummified body of the deceased. Full-length painted images of the dead in the guise of Osiris, flanked by Egyptian funerary scenes, were effective modes of representation that reveal how gender was used to facilitate the transfiguration of the deceased and aid his or her journey in the afterlife. This paper examines gendered expressions of self-presentation and specifically investigates the iconography and composition of the Osiris funerary shrouds. An analysis of the inscriptions and representations of both males and females on the shrouds adds a new comparative dimension arguing that gender relations were fluid and dynamic—being made and negotiated through new and innovative magical and material resources. I explore the problematic relationships between death, Osiris, and the potency of masculine regeneration over feminine reproductive powers, and how these concerns were iconographically and textually addressed to preserve and commemorate the age and gender of the deceased. I conclude by revealing how the individualizing portraiture and the adaptable iconographic repertoire of the shrouds indicates a growing interest in the posthumous expression of gender and identity in Roman Egypt.

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Cite this Record

Variations on an Osirian Theme: Gendered Expressions of Identity in Osiris Funerary Shrouds from Roman Egypt. Lissette Jimenez. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 395717)


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min long: -18.809; min lat: -38.823 ; max long: 53.262; max lat: 38.823 ;