The Small Stuff of the Palmyrenes: The Coins and Tesserae of Palmyra

Organised by Professor Rubina Raja

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DateThu 20 June — Fri 21 June 2019
Time09:00  —  18:00
Location

The Royal Danish Academy of Sciences and Letters, Copenhagen

Outline

Palmyra and its archaeology and history have received immense attention over the past decades. During this time, the monumental architecture of the city – mainly dating to the first three centuries CE – as well as the art produced in the city have been at the center of art-historical and archaeological scholarship, and studies of the literary sources and the epigraphy have also been undertaken. However, the local coinage of the city and the so-called banqueting tesserae remain understudied groups of material from this important site. Therefore, this conference focuses on these two groups of evidence, both of which hold important information about the city’s self-representation and its local life over centuries.

The local coinage remains an under-researched object group that, indeed, holds crucial information about local values, as expressed through iconographic representations. It also tells us about the inner workings of the urban networks of Palmyra and their connection to the outside world. The so-called banqueting tesserae remain, after the funerary sculpture of the city, the richest iconographic source stemming from one specific realm in Palmyra – in this case the religious sphere. These small, most often terracotta, tokens were used as entrance tickets to religious banquets hosted in the sanctuaries of the city. They display an immensely rich iconographic repertoire and give detailed insight into the religious life of Palmyra, its structure, its development and its networks.[1]

Since the local coinage and the tesserae have only recently become topics of interest, this conference aims at pushing forward their detailed exploration, placing them within the larger framework of local Palmyrene civic and religious life, considering also the city’s outlook to other regions, which may be reflected in the iconographic traditions. Themes to be explored in the conference papers include the iconography and inscriptions of the local coinage and the tesserae; the reflections of local traditions in the visual language of these groups of material; the influence of traditions from other regions than Palmyra itself, traceable through these objects; the significance of the tesserae for the understanding of the structure of Palmyrene religious life; and the significance of the coinage for the understanding of Palmyra’s urban networks and economy. 

Papers should be 30 minutes long and will be followed by a discussion of 30 minutes. Papers will be published in the series Palmyrene Studies, founded and edited by Rubina Raja and published by the Royal Danish Academy of Sciences and Letters, Copenhagen.

The conference will take place on the 20th–21st of June 2019. The programme begins at 9 am on the 20th of June and ends with a dinner on the 21st of June.

For invited speakers, three nights of accommodation will be covered as well as travel expenses (economy class). Please book your own travel to Copenhagen, and we will reimburse you after your stay (please note that we are only allowed to reimburse tickets booked directly through an airline and not via Momondo or other search engines). We would appreciate it if you could book sooner rather than later, in order to get a reasonably priced flight. Once you have organised your travel, please forward your itinerary, and we will book accommodation.

Titles and abstracts (200–250 words) should be sent to Rubina Raja (rubina.raja@cas.au.dk) no later than the 15th of June 2018. The full programme of the conference will be announced by the end of June 2018.


[1] Within the framework of the Palmyra Portrait Project, many of the tesserae have been studied already, and a new interpretative tesserae corpus is being compiled, following the main publication by Ingholt, Seyrig and Starcky (1955).



Practical information for speakers

Travel

For invited speakers, three nights of accommodation will be covered as well as travel expenses (economy class). Please book your own travel to Copenhagen, and we will reimburse you after your stay (please note that we are only allowed to reimburse tickets booked directly through an airline and not via Momondo or other search engines). We would appreciate it if you could book sooner rather than later, in order to get a reasonably priced flight. Once you have organised your travel, please forward your itinerary to Christina Levisen (levisen@cas.au.dk), so that the hotel booking can be finalised.

After your visit, please fill out this travel reimbursement form (disregard the bottom part) and return it (preferably in Excel-format) to Christina Levisen along with scanned copies of your receipts and boarding passes.­

Accommodation

TBA

Dinner and diet

Speakers’ dinners have been organised for 20 and 21 June, and of course, we will cater for you during the conference. If you have any dietary restrictions (incl. allergies), please let Christina Levisen (levisen@cas.au.dk) know in advance of the conference.