Dagmara Wielgosz-Rondolino (University of Warsaw), Serial production or individual orders? Palmyrene sculpture from the 1st to the 3rd century AD.

Palmyrene sculpture arouses great interest as a spectacular expression of local art. Formed by complex process and influenced by various cultural traditions, it maintained until the end its original character and style. Palmyra itself presents very rich and diversified spectrum of sculptural material, both in relief and in round as well as in form of architectural elements. At least two local limestone quarries supplied the raw material. Within the quarries the workshops operated responsible for the form shaping process defining the basic design of the object. Extremely rich sculptural evidence clearly proves that the serial production in Palmyra influenced each category of sculpture, although with different intensity in different historical periods. This phenomenon can be understood in strictly socio-economical terms: the economic growth of the city and its society increased the demand of self-representation objects, or in terms of strong local tradition and convention. No doubt, both are valid. In order to understand the long-term process of sculptural production in Palmyra, a holistic approach is required. In my opinion, Palmyrene sculpture should be interpreted as a whole, ruled by a single collection of socio-cultural factors.