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The Imperial Cult in Palmyra


Michal Gawlikowski and Khaled As cad

The restoration work directed for many years by Khaled Ascad in the ruins of the Umayyad
city of Qasr el Heir el Sharqi, excavated and published by Oleg Grabar (Grabar et alii 1978: 46-51,
Fig. 270), has reached the mosque built within the Great Enclosure. The ruins of the mosque were
cleared between 1997 and 2000 by Waleed Ascad, then architect of the Palmyra Museum, with a view
to partial restoration (Genequand 2003a,b: 43-45 and 69-72). Grabar had already read the general dis-
position of the building correctly (Grabar et alii 1978: 46-51, Fig. 270; reproduced by Genequand 2003b:
71, Fig. 3), but the recent work uncovered a monumental inscription engraved in Greek on a huge
ashlar block [Pig, 1],

Upon my arrival in Palmyra in 1999, I was shown a hand copy made by Waleed and some
photographs of the stone. A week later, 1 was able to visit the site, take new photographs and make
my own copy, which differs very little from the excellent drawing provided by Waleed, whom we
would like to thank for his kind help. Some years later, new photographs were taken and provided
on our request by Denis Genequand, whom we would like to thank warmly for his generosity.

Back in 1972 Oleg Grabar found another very similar stone in the course of his excavations in
Qasr el Heir. During a visit to the site in 1974 Jean Baity, Han Drijvers and Michal Gawlikowski estab-
lished that the first lines of the inscription were concealed under Umayyad plaster fixing the stone
upside down in the baths right outside the Great Enclosure. Next year, Drijvers and Gawlikowski
returned to Qasr el Heir with some tools and cleared the entire epigraphic field. Photographs were
taken and sent to Glen Bowersock, who was entrusted by the excavator with the study of the inscrip-
tion [pig. 2\. He published it in 1976 (Bowersock 1976: 349-355, PL 53; cf. Bulletin épigraphique 536,
REG 90,1977: 431; SEG 26,1641; reprinted in Bowersock 1994:195-201).1

Upon examination it became apparent that the inscription from the mosque and the one found
previously formed in fact one text, nearly complete, even though the two stones are now far apart
[Fig. 3], The stone in the baths contains the beginning of 13 lines, leaving at left a large uninscribed sur-
face 40 cm wide. The new stone bears the remaining part with the end of the lines, and an additional
line at the end. Where the two stones joined, a few letters have been damaged, but except for one
passage, the losses can be safely restored.2

1 The two halves of the inscription were published recently, independently of the present authors, by Chr. Delplace (2005:311-319;
cf. Bulletin épigraphique 454; REG 119,2006: 729-730). Her text is incomplete and the sense of her translation differs from ours.

2 We are indebted to Pierre-Louis Gatier and Bruno Helly, Maison de l'Orient Méditerranéen, Lyon, and to Adam
Lukaszewicz, University of Warsaw, for their valuable advice and suggestions.


Studia Palmyrenskie XI