The Palmyra Portrait Project: Preserving Cultural Heritage in a Time of Conflict




Getty Research Institute





Available in



In this lecture, archaeologist, Rubina Raja, addresses Palmyra's archaeology and history, its unique funerary portrait tradition, and the current cultural-heritage catastrophe. It can be viewed at the Getty Research Institute's official YouTube Channel.

Getty is a cultural and philanthropic institution dedicated to the presentation, conservation, and interpretation of the world’s artistic legacy. Through the collective and individual work of its constituent programs—Getty Conservation Institute, Getty Foundation, J. Paul Getty Museum, and Getty Research Institute—Getty pursues its mission in Los Angeles and throughout the world, serving both the general interested public and a wide range of professional communities in order to promote a vital civil society through an understanding of the visual arts.

Established in 2012, the Palmyra Portrait Project has accounted for more than 3,000 portraits, a unique corpus that provides crucial evidence of self-representation in the Roman world. Due to escalating conflict in Syria, the project has gained added importance as the sole record of many portraits that remained in situ before the outbreak of the civil war.

Some of the topics presented in the lecture are:

  • The funerary monuments of Palmyra, Syria
  • Bringing the public sphere into the funerary sphere
  • The supposed destruction of the famous Elahbels Tower