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Ancient Mesopotamia
Assyria Nineveh
Arslan Tash Til Barsip
Iran Palace of Darius
Phoenicia Arabia Palmyra
Syrian coast
Ougarit Byblos

Funerary Relief
AO 2000
Sully room 20 showcase 4
This funerary relief served as
the closure plaque of a loculus,
an individual recess for holding a body
in the family tombs of Palmyra.

 Funerary Relief on tombs of Palmyra.

This semi-reclined prominent figure is in Parthian dress. His wife is represented on a smaller scale. The practise of showing figures reclining as they eat was borrowed from the Greco-Roman world. In Palmyra, it held an exclusively funerary association. It is not mentioned in the Bible.
The epitaph on the relief reads: “Image of Maliku, […], alas! and Hadira, his wife”. Such expressions of mourning are found in the Bible. “In all the public squares there will be wailing and in all the streets people will be saying: “Ah! Ah!”.” (Amos 5:16). This cry of grief is sometimes associated with a filial relationship, as in 1 Kings 13:30: “they kept wailing over him: ‘Too bad, my brother!’.” And the Prophet Jeremiah was to announce the death of Joachim by saying: “Alas, my brother! And alas, my sister!” - Jeremiah 22:18.

Funerary Relief and Mourning  in the Bible

While the pagan people neighbouring Israel
were accustomed to erecting sumptuous monuments, older Jewish tombs are
remarkable in their simplicity.
Some were sometimes so discreet that
one could walk on them without
being aware (Luke 11:44).
 Among the Greek words translated on tombs, tafos emphasises the idea of burial (as in Matthew 23:29), while mnemeion (memorial, remembrance tomb, as in the text of John 5:28) stresses the perpetuation of the deceased
person’s memory.
The Jews did not venerate the dead and the religion did not encourage the belief in a conscious existence after death in a spiritual world, as with the Egyptians and the Babylonians.
Tomb of Josephat”     AO5064    
Tomb of Saint James”     AO 5033   Not on show
These two casts housed in the Louvre have acquired the value of originals. A260 The first adheres purely to the strict doctrine of Pharisee Judaism in terms of its decoration. The second is, in reality, according to the inscription engraved in the rock, the nephesh of the priests of the family of the Bene Hezir. These monuments existed at the time of Jesus and enable a scriptural connection to be made with these words: “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! Because you decorate the memorial tombs of the righteous ones.” (Matthew 23:29).
This word could also apply to other hypogea, the casts of which the Louvre also owns (AO 5017, 5034). Several sarcophagi have been removed from the hypogeum named “Tomb of the Kings”. The first is that of the Queen Saddan (AO 5029). Others are adorned with decorative plants (AO 5057) or a with a juxtaposition of wilted flowers (AO 5036).
The cave where Jesus was entombed
was closed with a millstone.
A number of these slabs of stone which blocked tomb entrances are in the Louvre.
The first reproduced the leaf of a door
(AO 5036), the second was operated by
a mechanism, the lock of which still remains (AO 5057, AO 5349). On the third, there is a variety of ornamentation (AO 3989).
Tomb with Rolling Stone
In biblical times, the custom of the Israelites was to bury their dead in a cave or a tomb (Genesis 23:2-20). It was a great misfortune to be deprived of burial. It was announced that King Joachim “will be buried with a donkey’s burial” (Jeremiah 22:18). Jesus used the Valley of Hinnom, where the corpses of criminals unworthy of burial were thrown, as a symbol for the total destruction. - Matthew 5:22. 
Cremation as it is practised today can perhaps be compared to what the men of Jabesh-Gilead did after they took back the bodies of King Saul and his sons from the Philistines. The Bible says that they brought back the bodies “and burned them” (1 Samuel 31:12), as a totally respectful way of acting, approved by King David - 2 Samuel 2:4.  A262
Among the Greek words
translated on tombs, tafos emphasises
the idea of burial (as in Matthew 23:37:00),
mnemeion (memorial, remembrance tomb, as in the text of John 5:28) stresses
the perpetuation of the deceased
person’s memory. A263 , A264

The fundamental notion of memory implied in the original words gives particular meaning to the words of the thief who asked Jesus:

“Remember me when you get
into your kingdom.”
- Luke 23:42. 
Sarcophagus Known as
“Sarcophagus of the Spouses”
Cp 5194
Denon Etruria room 18
This exceptional monument is
one of the most remarkable
Etrusco-Ionian-style creations.
The overall work comprises several parts: the ears and hands are clearly added on. The representation of the man with dark skin next to his wife with fair skin must give an impression of reality; their eyes have irises and pupils made of painted wood incrusted with obsidian or leaded glass. A265 This magnificent terracotta exhibit features the deceased, in a harmonious composition, semi-stretched out in the attitude of banqueters. They are making gestures of offering perfume, one of the essential components (along with the sharing of wine) of the Etruscan ritual.
This civilisation, which reflected ‘joie de vivre’ even in its funerary art, gave considerable weight to concepts inherited from Babylonian religion, notably the belief in the hereafter and in an underground world. A266


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