This bust of a man in the Great North Museum in Newcastle is from Palmyra and dates from the second century AD. We know that he was a priest because of his tall cylindrical hat, known as a ‘modius’. These hats were probably made of felt, and although some were plain, others were decorated with wreaths and small objects. This one has a wreath with an oval stone at the front.
The type of hat used in ancient Palmyra differs from those worn by priests elsewhere in the Near East, which were usually conical in this period. Palmyrene priests also shaved off all their hair and did not grow beards, unlike other priests in the region. These differences existed before the Romans took control of Palmyra, and all the evidence suggests that there were few changes in any of the religious institutions in the city as a result of Roman rule.
Come and meet this priest and other objects from the Roman period with a Middle Eastern connection at a free workshop in the Great North Museum in Newcastle on 9 or 10 May. Create new memories by drawing, writing and photography, assisted by our experts. We’ll supply all the materials, lunch and refreshments. Just let us know which date you prefer: firstname.lastname@example.org.
And, after you’ve been to our workshop in Newcastle, don’t forget to visit the other archaeological collections in Durham and elsewhere.