Funerary monument of Aththaia, daughter of Malchos
Height: 55 cm (21 5/8 in.); width: 42 cm (16 9/16 in.)
Medium or Technique
Gems and Jewelry of the Ancient Mediterranean (Made possible by the Vance Wall Foundation) (Gallery 210A)
An elaborate Palmyrene grave relief with a Greek inscription "Aththaia, daughter of Malchos, Happy One, Farewell." She wears a full tunic and a long himation (a cloak-like garment) which goes twice around her body and covers her head as a veil. Beneath this is a cloth headdress, an engraved diadem, and strings of jewels in her hair, which is looped back at the sides of her head to reveal pierced earlobes and elaborate pendant earrings. She also wears two necklaces, the outer one of gold chain with a sun-and-crescent pendant, two bracelets, three rings, and a large, circular brooch with three pendants hanging on her left breast. Her right hand is raised to her veil in a standard gesture for representations of women in Palmyrene funerary relief portraits; it may, as in Roman art, signal feminine modesty. Her left hand, supported by the sling of her himation, clasps a loop of fabric from her garment.
Although the Greek inscription betrays her Hellenic affinities, her face and the details of carving are thoroughly Eastern. The incised relief line of the eyebrows and the rubbery folds of the neck foreshadow Graeco-Buddhist sculpture in northern and northwestern India, and central Asia. The carving of the chiton (tunic) and himation is expertly handled, but the number of tight, zigzag folds also foreshadows Late Antique and Byzantine art.
The preservation is excellent, the surfaces being almost totally free of deterioration or deposit.