The head shown here was originally part of plaster moldings placed about two-thirds up the wall in the sumptuously decorated rooms of a private house at Palmyra. It was found with a number of similar heads originally were positioned on the top part of a horizontal relief molding. The plain part of the molding was plastered on the walls, and the heads were pressed into it while it was still wet. Several details were executed afterward. For example, a hair just before the plaster dried completely. There are similar decorations to this techniques in Pompeian wall paintings.
Iconographically, we can only partly determine the motifs. Some of these figures are clearly theater masks, characterized by their wide-open mouths and eyes. Perhaps No 202 is supposed to be the Trojan King Prian because of his peaked cap. The head of the youth with a similar cap (No.201) may be a representation of Paris. The young girl wearing a scarf (No 200) is obviously from the realm of comedies. The series from the Hotel Meridien site is of much better quality than others from Palmyra and elsewhere in the Roman empire. (2)
(1) A.Alloggen-Bedel Maskendarstellungen in der romisch-kampanichen Wandmalerei (Munic 1974)
(2) Cf.M Blanchard-Lemee. Maisons a masaiques du quartier central de Djemila (Cuicul) (Paris 1975)
Material: White Gibbs
Date: 150-200 AD
Item Dimensions: Height 6.5 cm : Width 5 cm
Excavated from: Palmyra. Private Antique Villa (Villa of Cassiopeia – The construction site of hotel Meridian)
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