Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Funerary relief

ca. 150–200
Syria, probably from Palmyra
21 5/8 x 17 1/4 x 8 3/4 in. (54.9 x 43.9 x 22.2 cm)
Credit Line:
Purchase, 1898
Accession Number:
Not on view
1 ‘Akiba,
2 son of ‘Ate’akab,
3 (son of) Gaddaia.
4 Alas!

1 ʿqybʾ
2 br ʿtʿqb
3 gdyʾ
4 ḥbl

This relief is a type of funerary monument characteristic of the prosperous caravan city of Palmyra during the first three centuries A.D. Reliefs with a representation of the deceased and a short identifying inscription were used to seal burial niches in elaborately decorated communal tombs; those with a half-length or bust format became prevalent sometime after A.D. 65.

Shown here is the upper body of a bearded man dressed in a Greek cloak known as a himation, worn over a chiton, or tunic, and wrapped around the right arm like a sling. He holds a small object, probably a schedula (book roll), in his left hand, and wears a ring on the little finger of that hand. The background of the relief is blank except for an inscription in Palmyrene Aramaic to the right of his head giving his name and his father and grandfather’s names, ending with an expression of sorrow common on funerary reliefs at Palmyra. His eyelids are carefully outlined and the pupil and iris indicated by a solid drilled circle inside a larger incised one. The large eyes and the modeled ridge indicating the eyebrows emphasize the intensity of his gaze, directed far beyond the viewer. The man’s hair is represented by a row of wavy locks which fall at an even length upon his forehead, creating a cap-like hairstyle. His short beard is composed of individual wavy locks. This relief can be stylistically dated to around 150-200 A.D. because of the figure’s beard and the deeply modeled folds of the himation.
Acquired by the Museum in 1898, purchased from Emile Abela, Tripoli.
Gottheil, Richard. 1900. "Seven Unpublished Palmyrene Inscriptions." Journal of the American Oriental Society 21, pp. 109-111, fig. 7.

Chabot, Jean-Baptiste. 1901. “Sur Quelques Inscriptions Palmyrèniennes Récemment Publiées.” Journal Asiatique 9, p. 349, no. 7.

Lidzbarski, Mark. 1902. Ephemeris für Semitische Epigraphik I. Giessen: J. Ricker, p. 215, no. F.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art. 1904. "The Stone Sculptures of the Cesnola Collection of Cypriote Antiquities in Halls 14, 18 and 19." In Handbook No. 3. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, no. 2044, p. 134.

Chabot, Jean-Baptiste. 1922. Choix d'Inscriptions de Palmyre. Paris: Imprimerie Nationale, p. 129, pl. 31.11.

Chabot, Jean-Baptiste, ed. 1926. Corpus Inscriptionum Semiticarum III. Inscriptions Hébraïques. Paris: Academie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres, pp. 246-247, no. 4117, pl. 36.

Ingholt, Harald. 1928. Studier over Palmyrensk Skulptur. Copenhagen: C.A. Reitzel, p. 113.

Colledge, Malcolm. 1976. The Art of Palmyra. Boulder, CO: Westview Press, p. 250.

Hillers, Delbert R. and Eleonora Cussini. 1996. Palmyrene Aramaic Texts. Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press, p. 93, no. C4117.
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