One Final Message: The Painted Programs of Alexandrian Tombs

Rachel Witt


Art historical analysis of the Greco-Roman tombs in Alexandria suggests that the tomb owners’ synthesized iconographic elements belonging to Greek, Roman, and Egyptian artistic styles. Classical decorative motifs and figures reflect the tombs owners’ understanding and acceptance of Greco-Roman practices. Tomb owners incorporate Egyptian figures into the funerary spaces, yet the compositions lack the homogeneity and religious connotations present in previous Egyptian painted programs. The seeming defiance of representation indicates that the tomb owners were not interested in correctly rendering Egyptian ideology; rather, the tomb owners were interested in painting Egyptian figures for the sake of each figure’s supernatural and protective meaning. Synthesis of the Classical and Egyptian funerary elements demonstrate the tomb owners’ decorative predilections and desires to communicate one final message concerning beauty, political allegiance, and religious identity.


Alexandrian tomb painting; Classical tomb painting; Egyptian tomb painting

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