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Palmyra in Perspective

Organised by Rubina Raja 
(Aarhus University)

Date: 8-9 December 2022

Time: 9:00-17:00

Venue: The Royal Danish Academy of Sciences and Letters, H.C. Andersens Boulevard 35, DK-1553 Copenhagen


After more than a decade of intense scholarship undertaken on Palmyra – independent of, but unfortunately in parallel with, the civil war in Syria, which still is raging in the country – we now stand at the end of the Palmyra Portrait Project. The corpus, comprising almost 4,000 Palmyrene sculptural objects, is in press and will, when published in 2023, change the way in which sculptural material from the Roman period must be dealt with in the future. There is no doubt that the corpus will be the baseline for a paradigm shift in scholarship on Roman-period sculpture, as well as the archaeology of the site more broadly. Over the years, numerous new research questions have arisen out of the Palmyra Portrait Project. Some of these have been tackled in the spin-off projects of the Palmyra Portrait Project, Archive Archaeology: Preserving and Sharing Palmyra’s Cultural Heritage through Harald Ingholt’s Digital Archives and Circular Economy and Urban Sustainability in Antiquity: The Case of Palmyra. However, numerous other questions have been researched in tandem with colleagues around the world, and many have initiated new projects of their own, focusing on a variety of other questions concerning the archaeology and history of Palmyra.

This conference aims to bring together scholars working on Palmyra and open a joint reflection on the scholarship undertaken on the site over the past decade – also, but not only, in light of the conflict in Syria and the massive destruction of the cultural heritage at the site and beyond. Furthermore, the intention is to set out a new set of research questions that must be answered collaboratively in the future and to identify the evidence and skills needed in order to address new avenues of research. The key questions to be addressed in each paper – through the evidence you are working with – are:

  1. What has been the core of your research on Palmyra in the past ten years? And what difference has it made to the field overall?
  2. Which lines of enquiry are missing in the landscape of Palmyrene scholarship? And what sort of data will therefore need to be collected and tackled in a different manner?
  3. Which parts of your research questions could ideally be expanded to the broader region of the Near East?
  4. Which research question do you need someone else working on Palmyra to answer in order for your research to benefit from it in the future?
  5. How, if at all, has the ongoing conflict in Syria and the destruction of cultural heritage shaped your approach to Palmyra?

Invited speakers

  • Jen Baird (Birkbeck, University of London), Zena Kamash (Royal Holloway, University of London) and Rubina Raja (Aarhus University)
  • Olympia Bobou (Aarhus University), Rubina Raja (Aarhus University), and Julia Steding (Aarhus University)
  • Kevin Butcher (University of Warwick)
  • Henry Colburn (New York University)
  • Christopher Hallett (UC Berkeley) - discussant
  • Maura Heyn (University of North Carolina - Greensboro)
  • Emanuele E. Intagliata (Università degli Studi di Milano)
  • Ted Kaizer (University of Durham) - discussant
  • Aleksandra Kubiak-Schneider (University of Wrocław)
  • Iza Romanowska, Joan Campmany Jiménez (Aarhus University), Katarína Mokránová (Aarhus University), and Rubina Raja (Aarhus University)
  • Maurice Sartre (Univeristy of Tours)
  • Annie Sartre-Fauriat (University of Artois)
  • Katia Schörle (CNRS, Aix-Marseille University)
  • Eivind H. Seland (University of Bergen)
  • Jean-Baptiste Yon (Laboratoire HiSoMa)

Practical information for speakers


Please book your own travel to Copenhagen, and we will reimburse you after your stay. Please note that we can only reimburse economy-class tickets booked directly through an airline and not via a search engine.

As soon as you have organised your travel, please forward your itinerary to Christina Levisen (levisen@cas.au.dk), so that the hotel booking can be confirmed.

After the event, you will receive a link to AU’s online travel reimbursement form. It is important that you keep your receipts, as you will need to provide documentation for expenses.


Comfort Hotel Vesterbro
Vesterbrogade 23/29
1620 Copenhagen

Phone: +45 33 78 80 00

Dinner and diet

A speakers’ dinner will be held on both evenings of the conference, and we will of course cater for you during the event. 

If you have any dietary restrictions (incl. allergies), please let Christina Levisen (levisen@cas.au.dk) know no later than 20 November, so that the restaurant/caterers can be notified.