Aarhus University Seal

Revisiting Edessa’s Funerary Portrait Habit

New publication by: Olympia Bobou, Rubina Raja & John Healey

Bobou, O., Healey, J. & Raja, R. 2023. "Revisiting Edessa’s Funerary Portrait Habit", Anatolia Antiqua XXXI, 1-52.


This paper re-examines the inscribed funerary monuments of Edessa and its surrounding area, both sculptures and mosaics, and offers a systematic approach to their typology, chronology, and iconography. This study of the eleven sculptures and twenty-seven mosaics highlights changes, especially in the depiction of the banqueting motif and the shift from the usual single-figure representations in sculptural format to the multifigural ones in mosaics, in addition to the best-documented change, from tombs where the figural commemoration was carved on the rock-cut walls to the depiction on mosaics. The comparison with the funerary monuments of neighbouring regions, especially Palmyra, to which the ones from Edessa have often been compared, shows that the Edessene artists and patrons were aware of iconographic and funerary trends, but chose to highlight their own local identity and practices in their own monuments, especially in the mosaics.