The gold mask of King Tutankhamun, who died at 19 years of age.
The gold mask of King Tutankhamun (Representational image) Getty

A new exhibition at Two Temple Place is allowing visitors to see the importance ancient Egyptians placed on their appearance in both life and the afterlife. The display also shows what a day in the life of an ancient Egyptian was.

The exhibition, Beyond Beauty: Transforming the Body in Ancient Egypt, has put on show an array of artefacts spanning nearly four millennia, from 3,500BC to 400AD. The artefacts depict ancient Egyptian civilisation's fascination for physical appearance, according to the exhibition organisers.

"This major new exhibition allows us to experience the ancient Egyptians at their most spectacular and at their most intimate, uncovering a civilisation fascinated by appearance and identity both in life and death," the organisers said in a statement. "The viewer is invited to ask why Egyptians cared so much about transforming the way they looked and how our perceptions are influenced by the objects they left behind."

Objects on show include mummies' mirrors, combs, hairpins, bracelets, necklaces, sandals, textiles, cosmetic vessels, scent jars and other ornaments. There are also rare surviving imagery on exquisite painted coffins, decorated funerary masks, delicate figurines and beautifully carved reliefs on display.

Such funerary artefacts emphasise the importance of body image even after death for the Egyptians, exhibition curator Dr Margaret Serpico said. The ornaments and make-up items provide an insight into some "surprisingly familiar daily routines and the ever-changing styles of the time", she added.

The show, which opens to the public on 30 January, also features tablets that give an insight into the lifestyles of the age's elites. The exhibition will run until 24 April.