Le tombeau des trois freres a palmyre. mission archéologique franco-syrienne 2004-2009.



Eristov, Helene; Claude Vibert-Guige & Walid Al-As'ad; Nada Sarkis. (edited by)


Institut Francais du Proche-Orient

Publisher City:





First Edition




3500 g



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Palmyra, Ancient Syria, Russian Historiography, Iconography, Aramic Inscriptions, wallpaintings

329 pp. of French text in two columns, Hardback binding in dust wrapper, title gilt on spine,  biblio.; index; footnotes; 105 colored plates, BAH 2015, copy new in mint condition.
As an object of fascination for travelers and archaeologists, the oasis of Palmyra has yielded necropolises rich in sculptures, in addition to its monumental ruins. In one of these cemeteries, wall-paintings were a favourite decor for the funerary spaces, as evidenced by the so-called Tomb of the Three Brothers, located south-west of the city. Dated back to the 2nd-3rd century AD, it was discovered in the late nineteenth century. This tomb presents an inverted T-shape plan with three exedras which is characteristic of these hypogeum tombs that gathered hundreds of bodies. An inscription engraved above the front door names the three founding brothers: Nama’in, Malê and Saedi. Their family had reserved for them the Easternmost exedra adorned with a painted decoration covering the vault and the walls. The iconography here is largely of Greco-Roman inspiration. On the three main walls Winged Victories placed on globes raise a medallion, which includes the busts of the deceased ones: men soberly dressed, women wearing high headdresses and jewelry. On the lunette, a large composition on a green background represents Achille at Skyros: Ulysses and his companions have just unmasked him under his female disguise and the true nature of the hero is revealed. In the center of the vault, a medallion depicts the eagle abducting Ganymede, the beloved Phrygian shepherd of Zeus. The entrance arch carries a series of intersecting circles, while the piers are decorated with large female figures, one bearing her child, all accompanied by inscriptions. Between 2004 and 2009, study and documentation campaigns were undertaken by the Syrian-French Mission at the request of the General Directorate of Antiquities and Museums. Luckily, the tomb had until then only been the object of consolidation works of its structure, without affecting the condition of the paintings; their great fragility had preserved them from cleaning and repainting. The overview was conducted with a multidisciplinary approach: topography, magnetometry, Aramaic epigraphy, condition report, pigment and support analyses, photographic documentation and graphic design of the decorations. In May 2015, the takeover of Palmyra by Daesh and the occupation of the tomb as an inhabited office altered it. The damage noted in March 2016 affects its structure, and, even more seriously, its painted decoration, which is particularly sensitive to moisture. Moreover the figurative parts have been covered up with whitewash. New observations are to be expected and in the meantime the documentation gathered here constitutes an essential testimonial for the understanding of the tomb and its iconography. This study will undoubtedly open new paths for research.

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