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
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)

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


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
  • Jean-Baptiste Chabot. Unknown title. 9ieme serie, tome 10, no. 2 Paris. p. 319.
  • Malcom A.R. Colledge. The Art of Palmyra. Boulder, CO and London. p. 263.
  • Harald Ingholt. Studier over palmyrensk skulptur. Copenhagen. pl. 16, fig. 3.
  • Margaret Cool Root. A Funerary Relief Bust from Palmyra. vol. 4 Ann Arbor, 1981. pp. 1-12.
  • Jacqueline Dentzer-Feydy, Javier Teixidor, Marielle Pic. Les Antiquites de Palmyre au Musee du Louvre. Monographies des musees de France Paris. .
  • Fred Albertson. unknown article. vol. 5. .
  • Dorothy Mackay. The Jewelry of Palmyra and its Significance. Iraq, vol. 11. pp. 160-187.
  • R. B. Wartke. Palmyrenische Plastik im Vorderasiatischen Museum. vol. 31 Berlin. pp. 67-100.
  • Eleonora Cussini. Regina, Maretay, and the Others: Stories of Palmyrene Women. pp. 1-10.
  • Brigitte Musche. Vorderasiatischer Schmuck zur Zeit der Arsakiden und Sasaniden. Leiden. .
  • 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. .
  • 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. .
  • , 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.
  • Klaus Parlasca. Syrische Grabreliefs hellenistischer und ròˆmischer Zeit: Fundgruppen und Probleme. Mainz. .
  • 748, p. 363.
Collection Area(s)
Ancient Near Eastern Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
Rights Statement

Copyright with museum