Funerary relief of Zabdibel

2nd c. CElimestone

Promised Gift of a Friend of the Bowdoin College Museum of Art


Ancient Palmyra (modern Tadmor) was located in the Syrian desert roughly halfway between the Euphrates and the Mediterranean, and an important stop on the trade route linking Persia, India, China, and the Roman Empire. Palmyrene prosperity is reflected in the rich finds from the local cemeteries. The Palmyrenes used limestone panels decorated with sculptures of the deceased to seal their tomb chambers. The young man depicted on this relief holds a schedula (leaf of writing material) in his left hand. The Aramaic inscription translates: “Zabdibel, son of Gaddarsu, Alas!” This relief was once owned Thomas Barlow Walker (1840-1928), and part of the collections that formed the nucleus of the Walker Arts Center. The relief was deaccessioned from the Walker Arts Center in 1972.

—James Higginbotham