Palmyrene stone stele of four busts with Greek epigraphy, 2nd century A.D.
This funerary stele has a strong Roman influence for three reasons. Firstly, the square composition divided into two registers, with two male busts in the upper part and one female and one male bust in the lower part, shows a clear influence on the funerary stelae in the Roman environment. Secondly, the style is classic by means of a high relief carved with Roman technique and where the faces become authentic portraits in pure Roman style. Finally, the robes and gowns worn by those depicted follow the fashion of the empire. This work shows that, despite the disassociation carried out by Palmyra, the artistic style is strongly rooted in the Roman stylistic base.
The Empire of Palmyra, located in Syria, emerged in the 3rd century AD as a split from 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.