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Gallery Text

The cloaked man on this tomb relief is accompanied by an Aramaic inscription that reads: Malē, son of

Maliku, son of Bagad. Alas! The man’s son, standing behind him on a pedestal, is also identified as

Maliku. The clothing of the two figures is culturally mixed: Malē has a hairstyle popular in the time of

Hadrian, and his tunic and cloak are Greco-Roman in style, while Maliku is dressed in a shorter tunic and

what may be Parthian trousers. As with other Palmyrene funerary reliefs, Malē’s portrait is notable for its frontality, which encourages the viewer to engage directly with the image of the deceased.

Identification and Creation
Object Number
Funerary Relief of a Man and Child
Work Type
c. 150 CE
Creation Place: Ancient & Byzantine World, Asia, Palmyra (Syria)
Roman Imperial period, Middle
Level 3, Room 3710, North Arcade
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Physical Descriptions
66 cm h x 56.5 cm w x 22 cm d (26 x 22 1/4 x 8 11/16 in.)
Inscriptions and Marks
  • inscription: in Aramaic,

    "Male, son of Maliku, son of Bagad, Alas!"; "Maliku, his son, Alas!"
Semitic Museum, Cambridge, MA, (by 1941), transfer; to Harvard University Art Museums, 1998.
Acquisition and Rights
Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Transfer from the Semitic Museum, Harvard University
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
A small child stands at the young man's side on a pedestal to the left of the man's right shoulder. The man wears his hair in the combed-forward manner popular in the Roman Empire under Hadrian (AD 125-135). He has a ring with an inset stone on the smallest finger of the left hand. his costume consists of a himation over a loose chiton, the former concealing all of the right arm except for the hand and all the left arm save for the hand that holds a rotulus. The child wears a long tunic with overfold at the waist, covering both arms. He holds a cluster of fruit or a flower in the left hand.

The inscription to the right of the man reads "Male, son of Maliku, son of Bagad, Alas!: The boy's inscription reads "Maliku, his son, Alas."

With the child omitted and the hair arranged in somewhat more early Antonine fashion, this man is identical in costume and sculptural treatment to the monument of Moquimu in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. If individual sculptor's hands are to be isolated in Palmyrene funerary sculpture, two monuments by the same carver seem to survive in both the Harvard University Art Museums and the Museum of Fine Arts (Comstock, Vermeule, 1976, p. 256, no. 399).

Cornelius Vermeule and Amy Brauer

Publication History

Gandharan Art and its Classical Connections, Fogg Art Museum (Cambridge, MA, 1983), no. 6, illus.

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. 165, no. 151

Delbert R. Hillers and Eleonora Cussini, Palmyrene Aramaic Texts, The Johns Hopkins University Press (Baltimore, 1995), p. 315, PAT 2721

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

32Q: 3710 North Arcade, Harvard Art Museums, 11/01/2014

Subjects and Contexts

Google Art Project

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