Funerary relief bust

Historical period(s)
3rd century (dated 231 CE)
H x W x D (overall): 60.1 x 55.3 x 23 cm (23 11/16 x 21 3/4 x 9 1/16 in)
Syria, Homs, Palmyra
Credit Line
Gift of Charles Lang Freer
Freer Gallery of Art
Accession Number
On View Location
Currently not on view
Sculpture, Stone

Figure: human

funerary, portrait, Syria, woman

To 1908
Joseph Marcopoli, Aleppo, Syria, to 1908 [1]

From 1908 to 1919
Charles Lang Freer (1854-1919), purchased from Joseph Marcopoli, Aleppo, in 1908 [2]

From 1920
Freer Gallery of Art, gift of Charles Lang Freer in 1920 [3]


[1] See Reserved Miscellaneous List, R. 5601, Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Archives.

[2] See note 1.

[3] The original deed of Charles Lang Freer's gift was signed in 1906. The collection was received in 1920 upon the completion of the Freer Gallery.

Previous Owner(s) and Custodian(s)

Joseph Marcopoli (C.L. Freer source)
Charles Lang Freer 1854-1919


The inscriptions carved on this relief bust, written in Aramaic, identify the figure as a woman named Haliphat and date her death to the year 231 C.E. The bust is from Palmyra, a city in southern Syria that flourished during the Roman Empire as a caravan oasis on the trade route linking the Mediterranean with West and Central Asia.

Many members of Palmyra's prosperous merchant class commissioned such funerary busts depicting fashionably dressed individuals; women often wear elaborate jewelry. The busts covered the openings of burial compartments in family tombs located in the desert outside Palmyra.

Published References
  • Signe Krag. Funerary Representations of Palmyrene Women: From the First Century BC to the Third Century AD. Studies in Classical Archaeology, vol. 3 Turnhout, Belgium. 748, p. 363.
  • Kriston Capps. "Palymyra" at Arthur M. Sackler Gallery., September 18, 2015. .
  • Klaus Parlasca. Syrische Grabreliefs hellenistischer und römischer Zeit: Fundgruppen und Probleme. Mainz. .
  • Ada Gabucci, Angela Benotto. Zenobia: Il sogno di una Regina d'Oriente: Catalog of an exhibition held in the Palazzo Bricherasio, Turin, Feb. 13-May 26, 2002. Exh. cat. Milan. .
  • Jacques Charles-Gaffiot, Henri Lavagne, Jean-Marc Hofman. Moi, Zenobie, reine de Palmyre: Catalog of an exhibition held Sept. 18-Dec. 16, 2001, Mairie du Ve Arrondissement, Paris. Exh. cat. Milan. .
  • Brigitte Musche. Vorderasiatischer Schmuck zur Zeit der Arsakiden und Sasaniden. Leiden. .
  • Fred Albertson. unknown article. vol. 5. .
  • Jacqueline Dentzer-Feydy, Javier Teixidor, Marielle Pic. Les Antiquites de Palmyre au Musee du Louvre. Monographies des musees de France Paris. .
  • Harald Ingholt. Studier over palmyrensk skulptur. Copenhagen. pl. 16, fig. 3.
  • Eleonora Cussini. Regina, Maretay, and the Others: Stories of Palmyrene Women. pp. 1-10.
  • Margaret Cool Root. A Funerary Relief Bust from Palmyra. vol. 4 Ann Arbor, 1981. pp. 1-12.
  • , Michael Gawlikowski, Klaus Parlasca, Javier Teixidor. A Journey to Palmyra: Collected Essays to remember Delbert R. Hillers (2005). Boston. pp. 26-43, 44-73, 137-149, 181-226.
  • R. B. Wartke. Palmyrenische Plastik im Vorderasiatischen Museum. vol. 31 Berlin. pp. 67-100.
  • Dorothy Mackay. The Jewelry of Palmyra and its Significance. Iraq, vol. 11. pp. 160-187.
  • Malcom A.R. Colledge. The Art of Palmyra. Boulder, CO and London. p. 263.
  • Jean-Baptiste Chabot. Unknown title. 9ieme serie, tome 10, no. 2 Paris. p. 319.
Collection Area(s)
Ancient Near Eastern Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
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