Book Series Studies in Palmyrene Archaeology and History, vol. 3

Individualizing the Dead

Attributes in Palmyrene Funerary Sculpture

Maura Heyn, Rubina Raja (eds)

  • Pages: xvi + 140 p.
  • Size:216 x 280 mm
  • Illustrations:107 b/w
  • Language(s):English
  • Publication Year:2021

  • ISBN: 978-2-503-59126-1
  • Paperback
  • Available

This volume brings together eight contributions that illuminate how attributes were used by Palmyrene sculptors and patrons in order to express social cohesion and group identity, as well as to demonstrate individuality.


During the Roman era, when the ancient city of Palmyra was at the height of its powers, several thousand funerary portraits were sculpted, each carefully crafted to represent the men, women, and children who had once lived there as members of the Palmyrene elite. In their commemorative monuments, these individuals were given specific attributes to express their social status, wealth, identity, and skills. This volume provides an in-depth exploration of different aspects of these funerary portraits, and illuminates in particular the addition of attributes and how and why they were used by both artists and their patrons. The eight contributions gathered here examine the range of choices available to commissioners of art works in Palmyra, the prevalence or rarity of specific attributes, and the ways in which the variation and selection of attributes could be used in funerary, religious, or public contexts to express social cohesion and group identity, as well as to demonstrate individuality. Crucially, while these funerary monuments may be closely associated with Palmyra, they in fact provide clear evidence of the city’s relationships across the wider region: examination of the different attributes suggests that the Palmyrenes were aware of how these were used, perceived, and adapted by neighbouring people as a way of transmitting various social meanings and expressing their own values.


Table of Contents

List of Illustrations

Attributes in Palmyrene Funerary Sculpture: Functions and Meanings — MAURA HEYN AND RUBINA RAJA

The ‘Fringed’ Mantle and its Relation to Gender in Palmyrene Funerary Sculpture — FRED ALBERTSON

Plants in Palmyrene Funerary Iconography of Adults — OLYMPIA BOBOU

Unlocking a Mystery? The Keys in Palmyrene Funerary Portraiture — RIKKE RANDERIS THOMSEN

Significance of the Drinking Attributes in Palmyrene Banquet Scenes — MAURA HEYN

Adornment and Jewellery as a Status Symbol in Priestly Representations in Roman Palmyra: The Palmyrene Priests and their Brooches — RUBINA RAJA

A Symbol of a City. The Iconography of the Palmyrene Coinage — NATHALIA B. KRISTENSEN

Why No Attributes? Expressions of Status and Social Realities in the Epigraphy of Palmyra — JEAN-BAPTISTE YON