Depicting the dead in North Syria. Funerary representations in Roman Commagene and Cyrrhestice

By Assistant professor Michael Blömer, UrbNet, Aarhus University (Palmyra Portrait Project lecture series).

2017.02.09 | Christina Levisen

Date Tue 04 Apr
Time 16:00 17:00
Location Antikmuseet, Victor Albecks Vej 3, 8000 Aarhus C


Commagene and Cyrrhestice were the northernmost regions of ancient Syria. In this area, a sudden rise in the production of funerary sculpture can be observed in the 2nd and 3rd century CE. Well known are the funerary reliefs and statues from Zeugma and Hierapolis, which were produced in large numbers and constitute the second largest corpus of Syrian funerary sculpture after Palmyra. Less well known is the funerary sculpture from the rural areas of Commagene and Cyrrhestice. The aim of my paper is to give a broad overview of the different local forms of funerary sculpture. I will also consider the sepulchral context of the sculpture in order to explore to what degree burial practice and tomb form had an impact on the design of funerary representation. Special attention will be paid to a large group of very distinctive basalt steles from the Savur valley, a fertile region between the cities of Zeugma, Hierapolis and Kyrrhos. These steles are heavily influenced by the funerary sculpture of the neighboring cities, but they also attest to a resurfacing of ancient Near Eastern traditions, a phenomenon which cannot be observed in the urban context. In general, the trans-regional analysis of the funerary sculpture of Commagene and Cyrrhestice points to the strong locality of funerary representation.

Please be on time, as the doors to the museum will close when the lecture starts.

There will be a stand-up reception after each lecture at the foyer.

The Palmyra Portrait Project is funded by the Carlsberg Foundation and Aarhus University.

For further information, please contact Rubina Raja (

Lecture / talk, History and achaeology