New project: Women in Roman Syria

The social and public life of elite women in Syrian cities under Roman rule during the first three centuries CE

19 September 2013

Sanne Klaver has been awarded with one of the 10 PhD Fellowships of the Institute for Cultural History (UvA) for a four-year research project, starting in September 2013. The project aims to provide new insights in the changing social and public life of women of the provincial and civic elites in Syrian cities under Roman rule during the first three centuries CE.

Central to this research are their public self-representation, their functioning as, for example, priestesses and benefactresses, and their role in the social networks of their cities, families and tribes. Interdisciplinary research, combining texts (inscriptions, literary sources, juridical sources) and pictorial sources (paintings, mosaics, honorary and funerary sculptures) will analyse and reconstruct the position of Syrian women and the way this changed under Roman rule.  Central to this study is the quest for Roman, Greek and indigenous cultural influences on the public (self-)representation, functions and social roles of the women from the local elites.


Sanne Klaver (1982) finished both her Bachelor’s degree Art History and her Master’s degree Art History (cum laude) at the University of Amsterdam. For her master thesis she examined the paintings in the baptistery at Dura-Europos, Syria. The results of this research will be published in 2013 in the journal Eastern Christian Art, titled ‘The Brides of Christ. ‘The Women in Procession’ in the Baptistery of Dura-Europos’.