Monday, April 03, 2017

A Penn exhibition with a Palmyrene inscription

PALMYRA WATCH: Culture on the frontline: Penn Museum shows artefacts curators are fighting to save in Syrian and Iraq. Exhibition features ancient objects and Medieval manuscripts, along with contemporary commissions by a Syrian-born artist (Julia Halperin, The Art Newspaper).
Many US museums have been closely monitoring the on-going destruction of heritage sites in Syria and Iraq. But few have had boots on the ground like the Penn Museum. The Philadelphia institution’s curators and researchers have been on the frontlines of the battle to safeguard cultural heritage in conflict zones. Now, they have organised an exhibition that seeks to illustrate just how high the stakes are.

Cultures in the Crossfire: Stories From Syria and Iraq (8 April-26 November) presents more than 50 artefacts from the museum’s collection, including a funerary relief from Palmyra (1st-2nd century CE), a 16th-century glazed terracotta tile from Damascus and Arabic illustrated manuscripts on complex mathematics, music theory and astronomy. Many of the objects were originally excavated from areas that have been torn apart by the Syrian civil war.

There is a photo of the Palmyrene funerary relief with the following caption:
Palmyrene Relief, Mortuary Portrait of Yedi’at, limestone, 1st-2nd centuries CE (Roman), Palmyra, Syria. Lavishly dressed and heavily draped, a woman lifts the edge of her veil as a gesture of piety. A Palmyrene inscription identifies her: “Yedi ‘at, daughter of Si’ona, son of Taime, Alas!” Dating to the 1st and 2nd centuries CE, funerary portraits like this one of wealthy patrons demonstrate the complexity and richness of Palmyrene identity. These busts combine Roman sculptural elements and local stylistic elements. Some of these portraits were accompanied by inscriptions in the Palmyrene dialect of Aramaic
The article reports that there is also a Hebrew tombstone in the exhibition.

Cross-file under Aramaic Watch. Background on Palmyra, its history, the ancient Aramaic dialect spoken there (Palmyrene), and the city's tragic reversals of fortune, for now shifting for the better, is here with many, many links.