EGYPTIAN FORGERIES
IMAGE GALLERY


figure of girl in swimming posture

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KM 81.4.27. Figure of Girl in Swimming Posture
Wood. Length: 18.2 cm. New Kingdom (ca. 1550-1070 BC)

This cosmetic grinder (?), purporting to be an 18th Dynasty (1570-1293 BC) Egyptian artifact, was purchased by a private collector from a reputable auction house in 1956 and subsequently donated to the Kelsey Museum. It came into our collections in 1981, and was only discovered to be spurious in 1992 when Visiting Curator Edna R. Russman studied the piece more closely. Find out more


papyrus rolls

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KM 87.12.1-2. Papyrus Rolls
Ink on papyrus, cloth, clay (of modern construction using ancient materials)
Height: 22.5 cm and 17 cm. Third Intermediate Period (1070-656 BC).

papyrus rolls showing detail

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KM 87.12.1-2. Papyrus Rolls, detail showing seals
Ink on papyrus, cloth, clay (of modern construction using ancient materials)
Height: 22.5 cm and 17 cm. Third Intermediate Period (1070-656 BC).

These papyrus rolls, donated to the museum in 1987, are examples of the modern "repackaging" of antiquities which frequently occurred in an attempt to represent an artifact in a fraudulent manner. Find out more


mummy portrait of a young woman

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KM 26801. Mummy Portrait of a Young Woman
Encaustic on wood. Height: 39.5 cm. Width: 17.0 cm. Thickness: 1.0 cm. Trajanic (98-117 AD).

Compare the authentic piece above with the three forgeries that follow:

 image of Fayoum mummy portrait

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KM 1797. Fayoum Mummy Portrait
Tempera on wood Height: 44.0 cm. Width: 20.0 cm. Modern.

Fayoum mummy portrait

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KM 1798. Fayoum Mummy Portrait
Tempera on wood Height: 43.5 cm. Width: 21.0 cm. Modern.

Fayoum mummy portrait

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KM 1799. Fayoum Mummy Portrait
Tempera on wood Height: 40.0 cm. Width: 22.0 cm. Modern.

The mummy portrait of a woman (KM 26801) is an exceptional example of the type of funerary portraiture prevalent among the Romans of the Fayoum region of Egypt. It can be compared with three other forged portraits in the museum's collections (KM 1797, KM 1798, KM 1799) which were collected by the museum's founder, Francis W. Kelsey in 1920. The forgeries are rather crude in comparison to the authentic piece, but the crudeness of the rendering is not the primary reason for a rejection of these pieces as genuine. Find out more


four variegated canopic jars

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KM 71.2.193-196. Four Variegated Canopic Jars
Limestone with painted details.
KM 71.2.193 (human): Height (jar and lid): 30.8 cm; Max. diameter: 15.2 cm
KM 71.2.194 (baboon): Height (jar and lid): 31.8 cm; Max. diameter: 15.3 cm
KM 71.2.195 (jackal): Height (jar and lid): 31.3 cm; Max. diameter: 15.3 cm
KM 71.2.196 (falcon): Height (jar and lid): 32.0 cm; Max. diameter: 15.0 cm
Late Period (Dyn. XXV-XXX, 712-332 BC)

Compare the above pieces with a similar set of forgeries below:

four canopic jars groupes as a variegated set

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KM 73.1.1-4. Four Canopic Jars Grouped as a Variegated Set
Alabaster, polished and inscribed (lid of KM 73.1.2 made of an opaque stone)
KM 73.1.1 (falcon): Height (jar and lid): 36.3 cm; Max. diameter: 16.0 cm
KM 73.1.2 (jackal): Height (jar and lid): 30.1 cm; Max. diameter: 17.0 cm
KM 73.1.3 (baboon): Height (jar and lid): 37.5 cm; Max. diameter: 16.0 cm
KM 73.1.4 (human): Height (jar and lid): 40.8 cm; Max. diameter: 20.8 cm
Dyn. XVIII, ca. 1550-1307 BC (KM 73.1.4); Dyn XIX, ca. 1307-1196 BC (KM 73.1.1-3)

The set of genuine limestone canopic jars (KM 71.2.193-6) were acquired by the museum in 1971 as a purchase from a collecting society in Bay View, MI. The fraudulent set of alabaster jars (KM 73.1.1-4) was acquired by the museum in 1973 as a gift from an individual.

Each of these sets of jars was intended for the purpose of containing the viscera removed from the body during the mummification process. The figures represented on the jar lids represent deities thought by the ancient Egyptians to protect each individual organ contained in each jar. Additionally, each jar was often inscribed. The inscriptions on the forged set of jars proved to be the critical aspect in this investigation; they are "nonsensical modern additions." Find out more


sculptor's model of a man

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KM 71.2.172. Sculptor's Model of A Man
Limestone. Height: approx. 10.5 cm. Ptolemaic Period (332-30 BC)

 image of side view from right of sculptor's model of a man

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KM 71.2.172. Sculptor's Model of A Man, side view from right
Limestone. Height: approx. 10.5 cm. Ptolemaic Period (332-30 BC)

Compare the views of this genuine sculpture with those of the forgery that follows:

head of a king

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KM 4971. Head of a King
Limestone. Height: approx. 20 cm. Ca. early 1920's

head of a king, three-quarter view from right

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KM 4971. Head of a King, three-quarter view from right
Limestone. Height: approx. 20 cm. Ca. early 1920's

head of a king profile from right

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KM 4971. Head of a King, profile view from right
Limestone. Height: approx. 20 cm. Ca. early 1920's

Both of these sculptures were purchased by the museum, the Head of a King coming into the collections in 1925, while the Sculptor's Model of A Man was acquired in 1971 from the Bay View collecting group. Each of these small limestone sculptures is cleanly carved, with dates attributed to the Ptolemaic Period of Egypt (332-30 BC) However, upon closer examination, the Head of a King has been shown to be a forgery. Find out more


The Art of the Fake: Egyptian Forgeries from the Kelsey Museum of Archeology

Exhibit Curators: Robin Meador-Woodruff, Terry Wilfong and Janet Richards
Exhibit Designer: Anne Noakes