Aweidah Gallery - Ancient Art

Roman limestone bust of a veiled female, 1st A.D

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Directory: Antiques: Regional Art: Ancient World: Roman: Sculpture: Pre AD 1000: Item # 1235495
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P.O.Box 51067 - Jerusalem, ISRAEL

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Height: 42 cm
Width: 40 cm
Height on stand: 50 cm

This monumental piece of ancient art will surely make a wonderful addition to the finest antiquities collection as well as a major display to any room of any house!

This adornment with jewellery, combined with feminine gestures and attributes, expressed what was considered the Palmyran female ideal. Differences in the amount of jewelry displayed on female portrait busts surely reflected the social status of the city's elite as well as the actual wealth of the women and their families during life.

She holds her veil with her right hand, raising it to collarbone level.
She wears a headband with floral design, a head-chain made of round stones and a knotted turban underneath a veil. As for other jewelry, she boasts a large, richly-decorated bracelets, dumbbell earrings, rings on her left and right-hand fingers and a necklace or a simple choker of stones with an oval ornament in the center

This limestone mortuary sculpture is from the ancient city of Palmyra in modern-day central Syria. A wealthy city located on the trade routes between the Parthian Empire to the east and the Mediterranean world to the west.

A time when the city of Palmyra flourished under Roman rule as an important nexus of trade between the East and West. After Syria was established as a Roman province in 64 BCE, the oasis settlement, originally called Tadmor, was renamed Palmyra, “place of palms,†under the Roman emperor Tiberius (14 – 37 AD). The city was significant because it was the meeting place of incredibly important ancient trade routes of the Eurasian continent — including the Silk Road.

Wealthy Palmyrenes built various types of funerary chambers, all of which contained cubicula (compartments cut into the walls of a tomb) designed to hold the remains of the deceased. Each cubiculum was sealed off with a portrait plaque, such as this limestone funerary stele of a woman. The reliefs featured on such stelae would have represented the personality or soul of the deceased. This example follows the canon for funerary plaques of the era—the woman is depicted frontally, in bust form, with her arms held across her chest. Stelae of this kind were produced in workshops and usually adhere to figure types rather than distinguish specific characteristics of the individual—enlarged, schematic eyes, heavy ornament, and patterned or linear hair are the norm. The wealth of her family is communicated through the abundance of her necklaces, earrings, rings, and diadem. She is draped in a Greek chiton (tunic) and himation (cloak), arranged in a complex manner to create a veil over her head. Her dress reflects the adoption of Graeco-Roman fashions and customs among the elite of Palmyra.