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Ivory model of half a human head, half a skull, Europe, undated
- Science Museum, London
- Digital Images
Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)
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About this work
Carved from ivory, this model shows a human male face on one side and a skull crawling with worms on the other. A banner with an inscription runs around the man’s face. This type of model is thought to be a memento mori – literally a reminder of death and the shortness of life. The skull was the symbol of death from the 1500s onwards. Previously death was represented as a skeleton accompanied by a living victim.