19-11-'12 | Ancient World Seminar |Lidewijde de Jong| Romans, Parthians, and Palmyrenes
|Wanneer:||ma 19-11-2012 16:15 - 17:30|
The funerary practices of Palmyra offer valuable insights into the Palmyrene imperial aspirations in the context of the Roman and Parthian empires. The unique material culture, alongside a few references in Roman sources, has ignited debates about the origins of urbanization and the political allegiance of the Syrian desert town. Discussion of the funerary practices (including architecture, gravegoods, epitaphs, and physical remains) allows us to focus on the people of Palmyra and their families. The funerary record clearly marks a sudden rise of wealthy benefactors of nomadic background in the 1st century BCE, who built tombs for their families that show an eclectic mix of Roman, Parthian and Mesopotamian cultural symbols. The importance of the tomb in preserving and protecting the physical body and creating a memory of lineage and family was anchored in older, local traditions. The tombs also signal socio-economic change in the early 3rd century CE and the increasing prominence of women as owners and members of tribes. One of these women, Queen Zenobia, symbolizes the brief period of resistance against Rome, crushed by Emperor Aurelian in 272 CE. The subsequent reorganization of Palmyra that included the construction of a Roman army camp had a serious impact on the town cemeteries. The memory of old families was demolished to give way to a new social and political order, one where tombs were no longer at the center of status negotiations.
Lidewijde de Jong received her M.A. in Mediterranean archaeology at the University of Amsterdam and completed a Ph.D. in the Classics Department and Archaeology Center at Stanford University. Her research interests concentrate on the reconstruction of ancient imperialism from the perspective of local communities. She primarily focuses on funerary practices in the Roman Near East, but also investigates the impact of Seleucid and Early Islamic rule on settlement patterns in North Mesopotamia. Currently, she is working on a manuscript concerning funerary practices in the Roman province of Syria, and the impact of the incorporation of the region into the Roman empire between the 1st century BCE and the 4th century CE on local traditions.