In questa sala sono esposti alcuni reperti del periodo greco e romano della storia d'Egitto (IV secolo a.C. - IV secolo d.C.) e una collezione di stoffe copte (IV - VIII secolo d.C.).
The items on display which relate to the Graeco-Roman period provide eloquent witness to the penetration of new sculptural techniques into the funerary rites of the Ancient Egyptians. This applies, in particular, to the polychrome masks of the 1st and 2nd centuries AD, which while retaining their original function – namely serving as a receptacle for the soul of the deceased – are comparable in significance to Roman sculpted portraits. Masks like this used to be laid out on the mummy in such a way that the head was slightly raised: the eyes were encrusted with glass-like paste and the hair-styles corresponded to the Roman fashion of the Imperial era.
Among the exhibits from the Roman period attention should be drawn first of all to the collection of Fayum portraits. This is one of the most famous collections in the world and it provides us with an idea of what Fayum portraits were like over the whole of their development in the first three centuries AD. All the portraits displayed here have been executed in a complex and skilful manner and in bright colours: they are expressive and authentic portrait images. These portraits convey to us at one and the same time the beliefs of the Ancient Egyptians and also the painting techniques and style used in the art of portraiture in Ancient Rome. They have been created using the tempera technique or that of painting in wax on thin boards of cypress wood. When a person died, the portrait would be laid out on the face of the mummy and held in place by bandages. Sometimes the portrait would be inserted into the hole at the position of the face in the shroud. A shroud of this kind from the 2nd century AD is exhibited opposite the entrance into the gallery.
The gallery also contains examples of Coptic textiles, which were made by Egyptian Christians. Church hangings, cloaks and tunics were decorated with woven patterns or with decorative inserts woven into cloth: they were worked in woollen threads on a woollen or linen base. The subjects were extremely varied: we find depictions of animals, birds, hunting scenes, ornamental compositions and scenes from the Bible. For early textiles a rich range of colours is typical: late textiles tend to be more monochrome. Descendants of the Ancient Egyptians, when they adopted Christianity, were skilled masters when it came to making patterned textiles, which were widespread from the 4th to the 8th century.