© President and Fellows of Harvard College
Identification and Creation
Object Number
Funerary Relief of a Woman
Work Type
c. 150 CE
Creation Place: Ancient & Byzantine World, Asia, Palmyra (Syria)
Roman Imperial period, Middle
Physical Descriptions
59 cm h x 44 cm w x 18 cm d (23 1/4 x 17 5/16 x 7 1/16 in.)
Inscriptions and Marks
  • inscription: Inscription in Aramaic: "Ra' Ta, daughter of Hairan, (son of) Taibal, Alas!"
P. Dupoux, (Homs, Syria). [E.S. David, Paris (by 1940)]; sold; to [The Brummer Gallery, New York, (1940-1949)], sold; [Parke Bernet Galleries, New York, April 1949, no.175, pg. 41]. The Hagop Kevorkian Collection, New York, (by 1965-1975); gift; to the Fogg Museum, 1975.
Acquisition and Rights
Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Gift of The Hagop Kevorkian Foundation in memory of Hagop Kevorkian
Accession Year
Object Number
Asian and Mediterranean Art
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Published Catalogue Text: Stone Sculptures: The Greek, Roman and Etruscan Collections of the Harvard University Art Museums , written 1990

Palmyrene Sepulchral Relief

The missing part of the back of the left hand and the adjacent sleeve are filled in with plaster along the line of the major crack.

The inscription reads: "Ra' Ta, daughter of Hairan, (son of) Taibal, Alas!" This half-figure of a veiled woman wears an enriched diadem, a brooch, and three rings. She also has a string of jewelry, gold discs and pearls or stones, running from either side of her forehead, under the diadem and back down on top of the hair above the ears. Her chiton and himation are both rather rubbery in treatment, especially the ample folds of the latter. She has a thinnish face with a small mouth, giving her an almost petulant, spoiled look.

Save for the specific, individual characteristics just mentioned, this is as "standard," as conventional a Palmyrene funerary relief bust of a woman as one can encounter. Parallels abound. Tibnan with her child on her left hand, in the Musée du Louvre, Paris, has the same qualities of drapery, in the period A.D. 150-200 (Colledge, 1976, pp. 70-71, pl. 86). Her hair cascades out from under the veil like that of "'Ala, Iarḥai's daughter," in the British Museum, a likeness bearing the date A.D. 113-114 (Colledge, 1976, pp. 62, 70, pl. 64).

Cornelius Vermeule and Amy Brauer

Publication History

Kristin A. Mortimer, Harvard University Art Museums: A Guide to the Collections, Harvard University Art Museums/Abbeville Press (Cambridge, MA; New York, NY, 1985), p. 117, no. 131, ill.

Cornelius C. Vermeule, III and Amy Brauer, Stone Sculptures: The Greek, Roman and Etruscan Collections of the Harvard University Art Museums, Harvard University Art Museums (Cambridge, MA, 1990), p. 164, no. 150

Fred Albertson, The "Date" on Two Dated Palmyran Funerary Reliefs, Zeitschrift fur Orient-Archaologie (2012), Vol. 5, pp. 250-270, pp. 263-264, fig. 10

Exhibition History

Roman Gallery Installation (long-term), Harvard University Art Museums, Cambridge, 09/16/1999 - 01/20/2008

Gods in Color: Painted Sculpture of Classical Antiquity, Harvard University Art Museums, Cambridge, 09/22/2007 - 01/20/2008

Related Works

This record has been reviewed by the curatorial staff but may be incomplete. Our records are frequently revised and enhanced. For more information please contact the Division of Asian and Mediterranean Art at am_asianmediterranean@harvard.edu