Gravestone with funerary banquet

ca. 2nd–3rd century A.D.
Syria, probably from Palmyra
H. 20 1/4 in. (51.4 cm)
Credit Line:
Purchase, 1902
Accession Number:
  • Description

    In the mid-first century A.D., Palmyra, a wealthy and elegant Syrian city located along the caravan routes linking the Parthian Near East with the Mediterranean ports of Roman Syria and Phoenicia, came under Roman control. During the following period of great prosperity, the Aramaean citizens of Palmyra adopted customs and modes of dress from both the Iranian Parthian world to the east and the Graeco-Roman west.

    Palmyrenes constructed a series of large-scale funerary monuments. These structures, some of which were below ground, had interior walls that were cut away or constructed to form burial compartments in which the deceased, extended at full length, was placed. Limestone slabs with human busts in high relief sealed the rectangular openings of the compartments. These reliefs represented the "personality" or "soul" of the person interred and formed part of the wall decoration inside the tomb chamber. A banquet scene as depicted on this relief would have been displayed in a family tomb rather than that of an individual.

  • Provenance

    Acquired by the Museum in 1902, purchased from Azeez Khayat, New York.

  • References

    The Metropolitan Museum of Art. 1904. The stone sculptures of the Cesnola collection of Cypriote antiquities in Halls 14, 18 and 19. Handbook no. 3. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, no. 2049, p. 135.

    Arnold, William R. 1905. "Additional Palmyrene Inscriptions in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York." Journal of the American Oriental Society 26, no. II, pp. 106-107.

    Chabot, Jean-Baptiste, ed. 1900-1905 Répertoire d'épigraphie sémitique I. Paris: Imprimerie nationale, no. 755, p. 147.

    Clermont-Ganneau, Charles. 1906. Recueil d'archéologie orientale VII. Paris: E. Leroux, pp. 356-357.

    Chabot, Jean-Baptiste. 1922. Choix d'inscriptions de Palmyre. Paris: Imprimerie nationale, pp. 112-13, pl. 27.11.

    Chabot, Jean-Baptiste. 1926-1954. Corpus Inscriptionum Semiticarum, pars secunda, vol. 3, fasc. 1-2.: Inscriptiones palmyrenae. Paris, p. 347 no. 4259, pl. 39.

    Ingholt, Harald. 1928. Studier over Palmyrensk skulptur. Copenhagen: C.A. Reitzel, pp. 95-96.

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

    Will, Ernest. 1949. "La tour funéraire de Palmyre." Syria 26, p. 99 n. 1.

    Will, Ernest. 1951. "Le relief de la tour de Kithôt et le banquet funéraire à Palmyre." Syria 28, p. 89.

    Sabeh, Joseph. 1953. "Sculptures palmyréniennes inédites du Musée de Damas." Les annales archéologiques arabes syriennes 3, p. 21 n. 2.

    Ingholt, Harald. 1954. Palmyrene and Gandharan Sculpture. New Haven: Yale University Art Gallery, no. 6, fig. 6.

    Gawlikowski, Michal. 1970. Monuments funéraires de Palmyre. Warsaw: Państwowe Wydawnictwo Naukowe, p. 115 n. 25.

    Imai, Ayako. 1983. In The Metropolitan Museum of Art: Selections from the Collection of the Ancient Near East Department, exh. cat. Tokyo: Chunichi Shimbun, no. 25.

    Parlasca, Klaus. 1984. "Probleme der palmyrenischen Sarkophage." In Symposium über die antiken Sarkophage: Pisa 5.-12. September 1982: Marburger Wincklemann-Programm 1984, edited by Bernard Andreae, Marburg/Lahn: Verlag des Kunstgeschichtlichen Seminars, pp. 285-286, fig. 1.

    Hillers, Delbert R. and Eleonora Cussini. 1996. Palmyrene Aramaic Texts. Baltimore, MD: The Johns Hopkins University Press, no. C4259, p. 114.

  • See also
    In the Museum
    Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History