Ancient Palmyra, a famous oasis city in the Syrian Desert, flourished in the first three centuries AD. In this period, the city was embellished with monumental architectural complexes and works of art. When Palmyra was rediscovered by European travellers in the seventh century, Palmyrene art entered collections across Europe. In the 1880s, the founder of Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, Carl Jacobsen, acquired more than 100 funerary portraits from Palmyra. Later additions to the collection were made by Johannes Elith Østrup during his travels (1890s) and Harald Ingholt during his fieldwork (1920s-1930s).
Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek possesses the largest collection of Palmyrene funerary art outside of Syria. The significant collection gives insight into the development of Palmyrene art as well as the values within Palmyrene society, reflecting both local traditions and knowledge about the world in which Palmyra was embedded – between large empires. Along with the funerary sculptures, the museum’s Palmyra collection include the so-called banqueting tesserae, inscriptions, altars, and glass, faience, and stucco objects. The collection is presented in its entirety in this catalogue.