Relief with a pair of deities from Palmyra

IMG_5690-701 - definitivo

Relief with a pair of deities from Palmyra


Half of the second century. A.D.

60 x 46 x 20

On the  relief, presumably  a sacred shrine, are the busts of two divinities, On the left Helios is depicted with a 11 ray crown and diadem, the body is dressed in a light robe buttoned over his left shoulder. On the right there is the bust of a bearded god, with flowing hair, which behind the ears fall in a tuft over the shoulders. The figure is draped with a garment, while behind him we can see  a rod or a thin sceptre:  it should be Zeus. For both we can notice  a rather soft and naturalistic rendering of the clothes, locks of hair and beard.

The two reliefs have many similarities and comparisons with the works of the Palmyra area (for example the male portrait Sadurska A., A Bounni, Les Sculptures de funéraires Palmire. Rome, 1994 p. cat 2 16 Fig. 61) In reality they are not stylistically all noticeable features of the latest  large-scale Palmyrene production (end of II – III century d. C.)  as for the angular eyebrows slanted and huge eyes with deeply incised irises and pupils,  a certain stereometric stylization of the head but have more natural details that are closer  to the greek-roman sensitivity.

For this reason they can be considered  more ancient  (than mid II century AD if not preceding)  compared to the more popular production, of  the Severus era, and following (for example, during the reign of Zenobia), and maybe  they belong to sculptural works produced in an area even more Romanized,  in the province of Syria, and under the cultural sphere of Palmyra.

Giandomenico Spinola