Female sandstone bust representing a lady, Palmyra Empire, 100 A.D.

This female bust must have belonged to a lady of high social rank since the represented one is richly dressed with a tunic that covers head and body, at the same time that it presents a great wealth in the recreation of accessories like earrings, rings, necklaces and bracelets. The artistic manifestations of this period are immensely beautiful, with Roman technique and mastery, Palmira's style is even more detailed and full of expression and passion. Particularly noteworthy is the technique in the treatment of the cloths that are folded over the woman's body, as well as the sweetness that the sculptor achieves on the face. In line with the classic tradition, this is a very idealised portrait using soft features and a curly hairdo in a bun, also of a classic cut. His eternal look has remained unfading for thousands of years. The Empire of Palmyra, located in present-day Syria, emerged in the 3rd century AD as a division of the Roman Empire, when the Queen of Palmyra, Zenobia, sought a disconnection from Rome by taking advantage of the power vacuum she had left in the East. The local elites accepted Zenobia's control of Palmyra because she was committed to defending their commercial interests. The geographical position of the city gave it a privileged status in commercial relations between East and West, as it became the key point for the caravan trade and the exchange of luxury products, participating as an enclave on the Silk Road. On the eastern periphery of the Roman Empire, the ancient city of Palmyra stood as a gateway linking the western world with the luxuries of the East. For the ancient inhabitants of this arid kingdom, Palmyra was known simply as the Bride of the Desert, and for centuries intrepid merchants passed through this oasis in search of relief from the desert sun. The Hebrew Bible attributes the city to King Solomon, although ancient Marian records mention Palmyra from the second millennium BC. Under the mercurial reign of the Seleucids, the city experienced the pleasures of Hellenic civilization, which continued 300 years later when in the first century A.D. Tiberius incorporated Syria into the Roman Empire. From the Romans the city passed into Byzantium before falling to the armies of Muhammad and being abandoned around 800 AD. At its height, Palmyra was an elegant symbol of imperial greatness. Trade brought wealth, power and splendour to this desert city, transforming Palmyra into a limestone metropolis that has bequeathed a rich and abundant source of archaeological remains that reflect the city's long imperial history. The inhabitants of Palmyra are famous for the construction of colossal funeral monuments built above and below the desert floor. The burial chambers were sealed with limestone slabs decorated with magnificent busts in high relief representing the soul of the deceased.


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