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About 900 mummy portraits are known at present. The majority were found in the necropoleis of Fayum. Due to the hot dry Egyptian climate, the paintings are frequently very well preserved, often retaining their brilliant colours seemingly unfaded by time.
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Long before realistic portrait painting developed in Europe in the Renaissance, Roman-Egyptian artists did striking likenesses in wax on limewood. These Fayum funeral portraits date from around 100 CE.