Herakleides is a Romano-Egyptian mummy dating back to the early 1st Century AD who was mummified in a pharaonic manner. Herakleides is believed to have been a young scribe, worshiper of Thoth (the God of Knowledge) or a priest due to characteristic markings on the linen wrappings of the mummy.
The mummy of Herakleides was preserved in a shroud that was painted red, featuring characteristic Egyptian artwork and iconography. Herakleides is a Roman Egyptian portrait mummy. A painting of his face is inlaid into the red shroud that encompasses Herakleides' mummified remains.
The mummification process likely followed characteristic Roman Egyptian practices and thus took approximately 70 days. Scans of Herakleides' remains indicates that his brain was removed from his body through the nose. It is likely that this was a result of post-mortem evisceration practices. Non-invasive studies have also shown that Herakleides' heart was removed, a practice uncommon in the Egyptian culture, as the heart was believe to have been the pinnacle of life and intelligence. The remains were likely then covered in a variety of salts and lotions to dry and embalm the remains. Scans of the mummified remains indicate that a mummified Ibis was placed within the linen wrappings. This was likely indicative Herakleides worship of the God of Knowledge, Thoth.
A variety of studies and non-invasive experiments were performed on the mummified remains of Herakleides. These experiments included a sampling of the sealed environment Herakleides was placed in prior to exhibition in the museum. Gas chromatography was used to identify any possible decomposition of organic material in the sealed contained Herakleides was placed in. Traces of cedar oil was found, which was likely used to aid in the preservation of his remains. An additional study was used to determine the chemical composition of the paint used on the shroud Herakleides was contained in. It was determined that the paint was lead-based after performing numerous chemical reactions on small samples taken from the mummy.
It is unknown as to the cause of death of Herakleides, however, Scans have shown that the skeleton of Herakleides is in good condition.
The painting that accompanies Herakleides' remains makes it appear as if he were naked. It is unknown as to why Herakleides is nude, however, some speculate that it may bear some religious, social, or spiritual meaning.
Getting to Know Herakleides (Getty Museum Programs). (2008, July 12). Retrieved December 3, 2015, from http://www.getty.edu/museum/programs/mummy.html
Lamar, L. (2013, May 28). The Mummy of Herakleides – Roman Egypt at the Getty Villa. Retrieved December 3, 2015, from http://www.heritagedaily.com/2013/05/the-mummy-of-herakleides-roman-egypt-at-the-getty-villa/89661
Mummy with Cartonnage and Portrait (Getty Museum). (n.d.). Retrieved December 3, 2015, from http://www.getty.edu/art/collection/objects/13306/unknown-maker-mummy-with-cartonnage-and-portrait-romano-egyptian-50-100/