Sanne Klaver, ASH PhD candidate, will defend the dissertation entitled 'Women in Roman Syria: the cases of Dura-Europos, Palmyra, and Seleucia on the Euphrates' supervised by Prof. Emily Hemelrijk and Dr Lucinda Dirven.
This thesis investigates the lives of women in three cities in Roman Syria: Dura-Europos, Palmyra, and Seleucia on the Euphrates; in particular, how this social life was influenced by the various cultures within this province. The aim of this study was to investigate female participation in the various spheres of life – funerary, religious, and public – and the circumstances of their involvements, ultimately broadening our knowledge on the lives of women in Roman Syria and thus of Roman Syria in general. Anthropological and sociological studies have shown that by studying women, one increases one’s understanding of a society and of the social groups in which these women acted. Additionally, the quest for cultural influences on the lives of women calls for the use of the hybrid model through which, one can study various processes of cultural exchange. Cultural exchange can be studied by examining values and ideas of societies, but on the ground level, it is especially inscriptions and material culture that have proven to be rather useful. Through their names, appearances, and attributes, women signify the values and cultures embedded in societies, social groups, and families. Therefore an interdisciplinary approach was needed, combining inscriptions with material evidence such as portraits and jewellery. This research has demonstrated that women were important signifiers of the social and cultural identities of their families. Moreover, their participation in city life was especially influenced by locality.