Adjust the interface to make it easier to use for different conditions.
This renders the document in high contrast mode.
This renders the document as white on black
This can help those with trouble processing rapid screen movements.
This loads a font easier to read for people with dyslexia.

Woman of Valor: Funerary Portrait of a Palmyrene Woman

Special display

  • Date iconMarch 7 2024
  • Curator: Laura A. Peri
  • Designers: Michal Aldor and Yasmin Tams
  • Archaeology Wing’s Entrance

This impressive funerary portrait commemorates a wealthy matron of Palmyra (Tadmor), a famed caravan city in the Syrian Desert. The inscription in Aramaic identifies her as Attai, daughter of Ogga and wife of Yarhibola. Such stone slabs carved in relief were used to seal burial niches (loculi) in family tombs.

Attai’s portrait is a superb example of Palmyrene funerary art. In a distinctive style that blends local and Greco-Roman traditions, it depicts the richly bejeweled woman as an archetypal wife devoted to her husband’s household. Her head and shoulders are covered and her hair is tied. A key dangles from her brooch. With one hand she touches her veil and in the other she holds spinning tools – a distaff and spindle. Attai’s symbolic attire and gestures and the protective power of her jewelry guaranteed her the best possible afterlife.

This image, representing the epitome of female virtue, brings to mind the biblical “Woman of Valor”, especially the verse “She sets her hand to the distaff and her fingers work the spindle” (Proverbs 31:19). 


Funerary portrait of Attai
Palmyra (Tadmor), Syria, 2nd century, limestone
Inscription: Attai, daughter of Ogga son of Taibbol, wife of Yarhibola son of Taibbol, alas!
Loan from W.F. Albright Institute of Archaeological Research, Jerusalem
Photo: © The Israel Museum, by Elie Posner and Zohar Shemesh