Money, Money, Money – Production and Value of Palmyrene Funerary Portraits

Lecture by PhD student Julia Steding, Aarhus University.

2017.01.03 | Christina Levisen

Date Wed 03 May
Time 16:00 17:00
Location Antikmuseet, Victor Albecks Vej 3, 8000 Aarhus C


Palmyrene funerary portraiture constitutes the largest Roman-period portrait group outside Rome. Loculus reliefs, sarcophagi and stelae that depicting males, females, children and priests raised questions towards identity, status and gender. Many examinations on these issues has been made within the last years, however less research has been done on the production of the portraits. The corpus allows to have a detailed look at the techniques and tools. This enables us to investigate production processes, the development of techniques through time and the influence of the technical knowledge as well as costumers’ wishes on the end-product.

The focus of my paper will be the value of female portraits on loculus reliefs. Of course, it is difficult to judge or determine the value, especially when talking about an artisanal or artistic outcome. But if we assume that specific parts of the portrait are more labour-intensive and if we equate the work-input with a certain value, it is possible to group the portraits in categories. These categories reflect a difference in choices that has been made by the carver and the costumer.

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