a mask placed on the face of a dead person in burials. This custom, which is associated with ancestor worship and the concept of life after death, was practiced among different peoples at various times.
Burial masks made of wood, clay, gypsum, and gold have been found in ancient Egyptian necropolises. Gold burial masks have been found in the shaft graves of Mycenae (16th century B.C.), in what is now Iran, and also on the island of Samos (sixth century B.C.). Various types of burial masks have been discovered in Nineveh, Carthage, and elsewhere, as well as in ancient burials in Mexico and Peru. They were widely used in ancient Italy, first by the Etruscans and later by the Romans. On the territory of the USSR, gold burial masks have also been found at Olbia and Panticapaeum. The custom of placing burial masks on the faces of the dead also existed among some peoples of Siberia from the end of the first millennium B.C. to the seventh or eighth century A.D. In most cases, burial masks represent portraits of individuals. Their study makes it possible to establish, in particular, the physical type of the population of the corresponding time period.