Book Series Studies in Classical Archaeology, vol. 3

Funerary Representations of Palmyrene Women

From the First Century BC to the Third Century AD

Signe Krag

  • Pages: xii + 422 p.
  • Size:216 x 280 mm
  • Illustrations:409 col., 1 tables col.
  • Language(s):English, Greek, Latin
  • Publication Year:2018

  • ISBN: 978-2-503-56965-9
  • Paperback
  • Available

The first comprehensive investigation of funerary representations of Palmyrene women.


“(...) the detailed comments, the illustrations and catalogue will no doubt be useful to those interested in the depiction of women, in the Palmyrene corpus and in funerary representation more generally.” (Anja Slawisch, in Bryn Mawr Classical Review, 52, 08/2019)

“Insgesamt ist die Publikation insbesondere wegen der katalogartigen Zusammenstellung des Materials ein nützliches Instrument für künftige Untersuchungen zur Palmyrenischen Grabplastik. Der weit gespannte Bogen der angesprochenen Fragestellungen, zahlreiche Detailinformationen und ‑beobachtungen sind ein Gewinn, weil sie zur Diskussion und zu weiterer Forschung anregen.” (Andreas Schmidt‑Colinet, dans Revue Archéologique, 2, 2019, p. 464)

“The catalogue, its contextualization and the accurate analysis of the pieces indubitably lay the foundations upon which future scholars will build their own research. The monograph therefore will be extremely useful for art historians, in particular those interested in the contamination of Classical art at the border of the Greco-Roman world, but also and more relevantly, for all scholars dealing with gender studies problems. Any study concerning the role of women in Ancient Near Eastern Societies and their representation should take into account Krag’s study.” (Leonardo Gregoratti, dans Histara, 09/03/2020)

« D’autres travaux ne manqueront sans doute pas de revenir sur ces différents points ; le corpus est maintenant établi – et bien établi –, il suscitera certainement de nouveaux questionnements encore. » (Jean Ch. Balty, dans L'Antiquité Classique, 88, 2019, p. 447)

“(…) Krag is to be applauded for this important and innovative study. This is the first catalogue of female funerary portraits from Palmyra and as such invaluable for any further research into the topic. In terms of an overview of the stylistic and iconographic developments of female portraits, the illustrations of the catalogue speak volumes. This book raises important issues that no doubt will serve as a source of inspiration for years to come.” (Lucinda Dirven, in Bibliotheca Orientalis, LXXIX ¾, 2022, p. 293)


The ancient city of Palmyra, which today lies in the desert of modern Syria, was once a flourishing city of trade. During the Roman era, when Palmyra was at the height of its powers, several hundred funerary monuments were constructed in the city, and within these, portraits of Palmyra’s inhabitants were once displayed. These representations of men, women, and children from the Roman Imperial period form the largest body of portraiture known outside of Rome itself, and their study is essential to our understanding of how funerary portraiture in the Roman provinces was used as a mechanism to shape and express identity.

This volume offers a study and catalogue of the funerary portraits of Palmyrene women from the first century BC to the third century AD. It explores both the visual qualities of the portraits themselves, and the complexities of the space in which they were originally situated. By analysing the civic and religious activities of women within Palmyra, this book also situates these portraits in a broader context. Through this approach, the work thus addresses key questions concerning the characteristics of Palmyrene female portraits and what this indicates about the nature of female identity in Roman Palmyra, how the portrayals of women changed over time, and what might have caused such changes.