Panel with carved Funeral Sculpture
This is a Palmyrean funerary bust of a woman who wears an embroidered dress and carries a ball of thread in her hand.
Spinning and knitting was the work of most women in ancient time, including the Roman period. Here the woman is carved with her fine clothes, luxuriously ornamented, and her jewelry displayed, revealing bracelets, necklaces, earrings, head-band, and a brooch. Her hair is braided and visible from under her head scarf. At the top right angle there is a funerary text inscribed in the Palmyrean Aramaic epigraphy.
These kinds of statues appeared in the cemeteries of Palmyra, where each family had its own tomb complex, be it an underground chamber or a high tomb tower or a regular house-like structure. These funerary complexes include the graves for burying, which are drawers that open in the sides of the walls so that bodies are placed inside, while the exterior of the drawers would be carved with portrait busts representing the deceased within. These portrait busts are both realistically rendered to each individual (be it grown man, woman, child, young man etc) and also stylized according to the Palmyrene tradition. The name of the dead person, including the lineage of his father and his grandfather, are usually carved to the right of the bust, the text begins with the expression: "Regretfully".
From this object we notice a mix of Roman influence on the dress, as well as the local ‘Eastern’ traditions of dressing such as the gown which covers the head and the whole body and the abundance of the woman’s jewelry. To this day the women of the desert steppes adorn themselves with golden jewelry.