Palmyrene Sarcophagi

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While the funerary portraiture of Palmyra is rightly world-renowned, up to now, the corpus of sarcophagi from the ancient city has received relatively little attention as a cohesive group in their own right. Comprising sarcophagi, banqueting reliefs and founder reliefs, as well as sarcophagus reliefs, most of these objects share a common iconographic motif, that of the banquet, although other scenes, mostly drawn from the daily life of the city’s caravan leaders and their families, also appear. The emphasis on the banqueting scene in particular reveals the crucial importance of dining in ancient Palmyrene society: for the living, banquets were a marker of social standing and gave hosts a chance to honour the gods and offer an ephemeral benefaction to their fellow citizens, while for the dead, the banquet motif offered the opportunity for the entire family to be depicted together and showcase their wealth and sophistication, as well as their connections outside the city.

This single corpus of material gathered through the Palmyra Portrait Project, is presented in this beautifully illustrated two-volume monograph. Through careful analysis of the portraits, and the costumes and attribute choices that appear in these images, the authors explore how the sarcophagi were used by Palmyrenes to project an image of local pride, while at the same time participating in the visual cultures of the Roman and Parthian Empires between which their city was situated.
Original languageEnglish
Place of publicationTurnhout
PublisherBrepols Publishers
Number of pages1,003
ISBN (Print)978-2-503-60466-4
ISBN (Electronic)978-2-503-60754-2
Publication statusPublished - 2023


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