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Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Funerary relief

ca. 148
Syria, probably from Palmyra
Limestone, paint
20.39 x 17.36 in. (51.79 x 44.09 cm)
Credit Line:
Purchase, 1902
Accession Number:
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 406
(at right)
1 Alas! Tadmur,
2 wife of
3 Mokimu, son of
4 Nurbel,
5 the craftsman.
6 Died the
7 29th day

(at left)
8 of Siwan,
9 in the year
10 459.

1 ḥbl tdmr
2 ʾtt
3 mqymw br
4 nwrbl
5 ʾmnʾ
6 mytt yw!m
7 20+5+4
8 bsyw!n
9 šnt 4.[100]
10 +40+10+5+2

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.

The relief depicts the upper body of a woman dressed in a draped garment who faces directly towards the viewer. Her hair is covered by a turban-like headdress, worn over a diadem that covers her forehead. Curls of hair can be seen at the temples, where it is gathered up over the diadem and under the headdress, while long, wavy locks fall to either side of her neck, reaching the shoulders. She wears a long veil over her head, covering the left arm and leaving only the hand exposed. The right forearm is bare and the hand draws a looped fold of the veil over the chest from the left side. Her expression is serene, and her gaze does not meet the viewer’s but looks far into the distance. The iris and pupil of the eye are marked by incised concentric circles, and the eyebrows are indicated by modeled ridges. Her small, thin-lipped mouth is framed by softly modeled cheeks. An inscription in Palmyrene Aramaic, visible over both shoulders, gives her name and her husband’s name, and records her date of death. The months of the Palmyrene calendar were based on the earlier Babylonian calendar, while the years were reckoned according to the Seleucid era, which began in 312 B.C.
Acquired by the Museum in 1902, purchased from Azeez Khayat, New York.
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. 2037, p. 133.

Chabot, Jean-Baptiste. 1905. Répertoire d'Épigraphie Sémitique. Paris: Imprimerie Nationale, no. 754.

Arnold, William R. 1905. "Additional Palmyrene Inscriptions in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York." Journal of the American Oriental Society 26, p. 106, pl. I.

Clermont-Ganneau, Charles. 1906. “Épigraphie Palmyrénienne.” In Recueil d'Archéologie Orientale VII. Paris: E. Leroux, pp. 355-356.

Chabot, Jean-Baptiste. 1922. Choix d'Inscriptions de Palmyre. Paris: Imprimerie Nationale, p. 113, pl. 27.2.

Chabot, Jean-Baptiste, ed. 1926. Corpus Inscriptionum Semiticarum III. Inscriptions Hébraïques. Paris: Academie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres, pp. 346-347, no. 4258, pl. 39.

Ingholt, Harald. 1928. Studier over Palmyrensk Skulptur. Copenhagen: C.A. Reitzel, p. 62, pl. XI, no. 4.

Ingholt, Harald. 1938. "Inscriptions and Sculptures from Palmyra, II." Berytus 5, p. 103.

Sabeh, Joseph. 1953. "Sculptures Palmyréniennes Inédites du Musée de Damas." Les Annales Archéologiques Arabes Syriennes 3, p. 21.

Bandinelli, R.B., ed. Enciclopedia dell'Arte Antica, Vol. VII. 1966. Rome: Istituto della Enciclopedia Italiana, p. 129, fig. 165.

Colledge, Malcolm. 1976. The Art of Palmyra. Boulder, CO: Westview Press, p. 256.

Parlasca, Klaus. 1990. "Eine Dame aus Palmyra - Zu Einem Bustenrelief in Privabesitz." Études et Travaux 15, p. 322.

Hillers, Delbert R. and Eleonora Cussini. 1996. Palmyrene Aramaic Texts. Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press, pp. 113-114, no. C4258.
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