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Studies on Palmyrene Sculpture: A Translation of Harald Ingholt’s Studier over Palmyrensk Skulptur, Edited and with Commentary

New Publication edited by Olympia Bobou, Jesper V. Jensen, Nathalia B. Kristensen, Rubina Raja, and Rikke R. Thomsen.

Bobou, O., Jensen, J. V., Kristensen, N. B., Raja, R., & Thomsen, R. R. (eds.) (2021). Studies on Palmyrene Sculpture: A Translation of Harald Ingholt’s Studier over Palmyrensk Skulptur, Edited and with Commentary, Studies in Palmyrene Archaeology and History 1, Turnhout.

By Olympia Bobou and Julia Steding.

In 1928, Harald Ingholt’s higher doctoral dissertation on the sculptures from Palmyra was published. Based on typological and iconographic analyses of portraits that are dated by inscription, Ingholt created a framework that allows scholars to date Palmyrene funerary busts within chronological groups. His ground-breaking work remains valid today. The work done in the Palmyra Portrait Project, led by Professor and Centre Director Rubina Raja and funded by the Carlsberg Foundation from 2012-2020, demonstrated the validity of Ingholt’s chronological groupings.

Ingholt’s research was, however, only published in Danish. Today, nearly 100 years later, the new translation to English can reach a wider academic audience. The new publication provides the reader with the original text and an English version, as well as commentaries. The English translation follows the structure of the original, including its pagination and format, and the two can be read side-by-side. Since the translation is as close to the Danish version as possible, it is thus not only a great research tool for archaeologists focusing on Palmyrene portraiture, but also reflects on the language and research of the 1920s, as well as Ingholt’s unusual and peculiar expressions. 

In the introduction, Rubina Raja highlights how Ingholt operated within the tradition of Danish archaeology in the Near East and reflects on Danish collectors’ activities in the late 19th and early 20th century. Most important of them is Carl Jacobsen, who founded the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek where Ingholt worked as a curator. Peder Mortensen gives a personal perspective on Ingholt as a colleague and person. Furthermore, the book adds to our knowledge of Palmyrene sculpture, containing appendices on (1) all the currently known dated portraits, (2) the acquisition histories of the pieces mentioned in the 1928 publication, and (3) a brief survey on the history of collectionism of Palmyrene sculpture. 

The new publication is the first volume in the new double-blind peer-reviewed book series Studies on Palmyrene Archaeology and History (Brepols), initiated by Rubina Raja. The book series will provide a stage for edited volumes and monographs on the city of Palmyra and draw together international research on areas such as archaeology, history, historiography, and cultural heritage. The next two volumes are already well underway; they will focus on the production economy in Wider Roman Syria, and the attributes used in the funerary and civic sphere.


Read more about the new publication on Brepols Publishers' website here.

Read more about the new book series Studies in Palmyrene Archaeology and History here.

Read more about the Palmyra Portrait Project here.