Funerary sculpture from Palmyra

Funerary sculpture from PalmyraFunerary sculpture from Palmyra

During the first centuries of our era the city of Palmyra, situated in an oasis in the Syrian desert, reached unprecedented prosperity. At the time of the legendary queen Zenobia (268-272) Palmyra's power extended well into Egypt and Mesopotamia. The Romans considered this a threat: in 273 Palmyra was destroyed and Zenobia carried off to Rome as a prisoner of war.

Funerary sculptures

The characteristic funerary sculptures come from underground burial vaults. The sculptures served to close off the burial niches in the wall of the tomb, each sculpture representing a person deceased, often mentioned by name in Aramese inscriptions. The men usually wear Roman garb, whereas the women are dressed in local, eastern robes.

Mother and daughter

One of the most splendid funerary sculptures from Palmyra is this tombstone of mother and daughter, who may both have died in childbirth. The Aramese inscription on the right reads: 'Aqimat, alas! Wahbi's daughter'. The inscription on the left: 'Alas, Jehiba's daughter, Shalmat'. The bust has been executed with a good eye for detail. The composition of the folds of the eastern robes and the jewelry are very striking.

Object: Sculpture
Dating from: 200-225
Material: Limestone
Size: 50 x 43,5 cm
Origin: Syria
Collection: Near East
Code: B 1977/4.1