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PALMYRA (/ˌpɑːlˈmaɪrə/ ; Palmyrene : _ Tadmor_; Arabic
Arabic
: تَدْمُر‎‎ _Tadmur_) is an ancient Semitic city in present-day Homs Governorate , Syria
Syria
. Archaeological finds date back to the Neolithic
Neolithic
period, and the city was first documented in the early second millennium BC. Palmyra
Palmyra
changed hands on a number of occasions between different empires before becoming a subject of the Roman Empire
Roman Empire
in the first century AD.

The city grew wealthy from trade caravans; the Palmyrenes were renowned merchants who established colonies along the Silk Road
Silk Road
and operated throughout the Roman Empire. Palmyra's wealth enabled the construction of monumental projects, such as the Great Colonnade , the Temple of Bel
Temple of Bel
, and the distinctive tower tombs. The Palmyrenes were a mix of Amorites , Arameans , and Arabs
Arabs
. The city's social structure was tribal, and its inhabitants spoke Palmyrene (a dialect of Aramaic ); Greek was used for commercial and diplomatic purposes. The culture of Palmyra
Palmyra
was influenced by Greco-Roman culture and produced distinctive art and architecture that combined eastern and western traditions. The city's inhabitants worshiped local Semitic deities , Mesopotamian and Arab gods .

By the third century AD, Palmyra
Palmyra
was a prosperous regional center reaching the apex of its power in the 260s, when Palmyrene King Odaenathus defeated Persian Emperor Shapur I
Shapur I
. The king was succeeded by regent Queen Zenobia
Zenobia
, who rebelled against Rome and established the Palmyrene Empire . In 273, Roman emperor Aurelian
Aurelian
destroyed the city, which was later restored by Diocletian at a reduced size. The Palmyrenes converted to Christianity
Christianity
during the fourth century and to Islam
Islam
in the centuries following the Islamic conquests , after which the Palmyrene and Greek languages were replaced by Arabic
Arabic
.

Before AD 273, Palmyra
Palmyra
enjoyed autonomy and was attached to the Roman province of Syria
Syria
, having its political organization influenced by the Greek city-state model during the first two centuries AD. The city became a Roman colonia during the third century, leading to the incorporation of Roman governing institutions, before becoming a monarchy in 260. Following its destruction in 273, Palmyra
Palmyra
became a minor center under the Byzantines and later empires. Its destruction by the Timurids in 1400 reduced it to a small village. Under French Mandatory rule in 1932, the inhabitants were moved into the new village of Tadmur , and the ancient site became available for excavations.

In 2015, Palmyra
Palmyra
came under the control of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant
Levant
(ISIL), and subsequently changed hands several times between the militant group and the Syrian Army
Syrian Army
who retook the city on 2 March 2017. ISIL sabotaged many artifacts and destroyed a number of buildings, considerably damaging the ancient site.

CONTENTS

* 1 Etymology

* 2 Location and city layout

* 2.1 Layout

* 3 People, language and society

* 4 Culture

* 4.1 Art and architecture

* 5 Site

* 5.1 Cemeteries

* 5.2 Notable structures

* 5.2.1 Public buildings * 5.2.2 Temples * 5.2.3 Other buildings

* 5.3 Destruction by ISIL

* 5.3.1 Restoration

* 6 History

* 6.1 Early period

* 6.2 Hellenistic and Roman periods

* 6.2.1 Autonomous Palmyrene region

* 6.2.2 Palmyrene kingdom

* 6.2.2.1 Persian wars * 6.2.2.2 Palmyrene empire

* 6.2.3 Later Roman and Byzantine periods

* 6.3 Arab caliphates

* 6.3.1 Umayyad
Umayyad
and early Abbasid periods * 6.3.2 Decentralization

* 6.4 Mamluk period

* 6.4.1 Al Fadl principality

* 6.5 Ottoman and later periods

* 6.5.1 Syrian Civil War
Syrian Civil War

* 7 Government

* 7.1 Military

* 7.1.1 Relations with Rome

* 8 Religion

* 8.1 Malakbel and the Roman Sol Invictus

* 9 Economy

* 9.1 Commerce

* 10 Excavations * 11 See also * 12 Notes

* 13 References

* 13.1 Citations * 13.2 Sources

* 14 External links

ETYMOLOGY

The name "Tadmor" is known from the early second millennium BC; eighteenth century BC tablets from Mari written in cuneiform record the name as "Ta-ad-mi-ir", while Assyrian inscriptions of the eleventh century BC record it as Ta-ad-mar. Aramaic Palmyrene inscriptions themselves showed two variants of the name; _TDMR_ (i.e. Tadmar) and _TDMWR_ (i.e. Tadmor). The etymology of the name is unclear; the standard interpretation, supported by Albert Schultens , connects it to the Semitic word for "date palm ", _tamar_ (תמר), thus referring to the palm trees that surrounded the city.

The Greek name _Παλμύρα_ (Latinized _Palmyra_) is first recorded by Pliny the Elder in the 1st century AD. It was used throughout the Greco-Roman world. It is generally believed that "Palmyra" derives from "Tadmor" and two possibilities have been presented by linguists; one view holds that Palmyra
Palmyra
was an alteration of Tadmor. According to the suggestion by Schultens, "Palmyra" could have arisen as a corruption of "Tadmor", via an unattested form "Talmura", changed to "Palmura" by influence of the Latin
Latin
word _palma_ (date "palm "), in reference to the city's palm trees, then the name reached its final form "Palmyra". The second view, supported by some philologists, such as Jean Starcky , holds that Palmyra
Palmyra
is a translation of "Tadmor" (assuming that it meant palm), which had derived from the Greek word for palm, "_Palame_".

An alternative suggestion connects the name to the Syriac _tedmurtā_ (ܬܕܡܘܪܬܐ) "miracle", hence _tedmurtā_ "object of wonder", from the root _dmr_ "to wonder"; this possibility was mentioned favourably by Franz Altheim and Ruth Altheim-Stiehl (1973), but rejected by Jean Starcky (1960) and Michael Gawlikowski (1974). Michael Patrick O\'Connor (1988) suggested that the names "Palmyra" and "Tadmor" originated in the Hurrian language . As evidence, he cited the inexplicability of alterations to the theorized roots of both names (represented in the addition of _-d-_ to _tamar_ and _-ra-_ to _palame_). According to this theory, "Tadmor" derives from the Hurrian word _tad_ ("to love") with the addition of the typical Hurrian mid vowel rising (mVr) formant _mar_. Similarly, according to this theory, "Palmyra" derives from the Hurrian word _pal_ ("to know") using the same mVr formant (_mar_). Palmyra
Palmyra
shortly after sunrise

LOCATION AND CITY LAYOUT

The northern Palmyrene mountain belt Palmyra's landmarks

Palmyra
Palmyra
is 215 km (134 mi) northeast of the Syrian capital, Damascus , in an oasis surrounded by palms (of which twenty varieties have been reported). Two mountain ranges overlook the city; the northern Palmyrene mountain belt from the north and the southern Palmyrene mountains from the southwest. In the south and the east Palmyra
Palmyra
is exposed to the Syrian Desert. A small wadi (al-Qubur ) crosses the area, flowing from the western hills past the city before disappearing in the eastern gardens of the oasis. South of the wadi is a spring, Efqa . Pliny the Elder described the town in the 70s AD as famous for its desert location, the richness of its soil, and the springs surrounding it, which made agriculture and herding possible.

LAYOUT

Palmyra
Palmyra
began as a small settlement near the Efqa spring on the southern bank of Wadi
Wadi
al-Qubur. The settlement, known as the Hellenistic settlement, had residences expanding to the wadi's northern bank during the first century. Although the city's walls originally enclosed an extensive area on both banks of the wadi, the walls rebuilt during Diocletian's reign surrounded only the northern-bank section.

Most of the city's monumental projects were built on the wadi's northern bank. Among them is the Temple of Bel
Temple of Bel
, on a tell which was the site of an earlier temple (known as the Hellenistic temple). However, excavation supports the theory that the tell was originally located on the southern bank, and the wadi was diverted south of the tell to incorporate the temple into Palmyra's late first and early second century urban organization on the north bank.

Also north of the wadi was the Great Colonnade , Palmyra's 1.1-kilometre-long (0.68 mi) main street, which extended from the Temple of Bel
Temple of Bel
in the east, to the Funerary Temple no.86 in the city's western part. It had a monumental arch in its eastern section, and a tetrapylon stands in the center. The Baths of Diocletian, built on the ruins of an earlier building which might have been the royal palace, were on the left side of the colonnade. Nearby were residences, the Temple of Baalshamin , and the Byzantine churches, which include "Basilica IV", Palmyra's largest church. The church is dated to the Justinian age , its columns are estimated to be 7 metres (23 ft) high, and its base measured 27.5 by 47.5 metres (90 by 156 ft).

The Temple of Nabu
Nabu
and the Roman theater were built on the colonnade's southern side. Behind the theater were a small senate building and the large Agora, with the remains of a _triclinium _ (banquet room) and the Tariff Court. A cross street at the western end of the colonnade leads to the Camp of Diocletian , built by Sosianus Hierocles (the Roman governor of Syria). Nearby are the Temple of Al-lāt
Al-lāt
and the Damascus
Damascus
Gate.

PEOPLE, LANGUAGE AND SOCIETY

Further information: Palmyrene dialect and Palmyrene alphabet Palmyrene funerary portrait

At its height during the reign of Zenobia, Palmyra
Palmyra
had more than 200,000 residents. Its earliest known inhabitants were the Amorites in the early second millennium BC, and by the end of the millennium Arameans were mentioned as inhabiting the area. Arabs
Arabs
arrived in the city in the late first millennium BC. The soldiers of the sheikh Zabdibel , who aided the Seleucids
Seleucids
in the battle of Raphia (217 BC), were described as Arabs; Zabdibel and his men were not actually identified as Palmyrenes in the texts, but the name "Zabdibel" is a Palmyrene name leading to the conclusion that the sheikh hailed from Palmyra. The Arab newcomers were assimilated by the earlier inhabitants, used Palmyrene as a mother tongue, and formed a significant segment of the aristocracy. The city also had a Jewish community; inscriptions in Palmyrene from the necropolis of Beit She\'arim in Lower Galilee confirm the burial of Palmyrene Jews. Occasionally and rarely, members of the Palmyrene families took Greek names while ethnic Greeks were few; the majority of people with Greek names, who did not belong to one of the city's families, were freed slaves. The Palmyrenes seem to have disliked the Greeks, considered them foreigners, and restricted their settlement in the city. Alphabetic inscription in Palmyrene alphabet

Until the late third century AD, Palmyrenes spoke a dialect of Aramaic and used the Palmyrene alphabet . The use of Latin
Latin
was minimal, but Greek was used by wealthier members of society for commercial and diplomatic purposes, and it became the dominant language during the Byzantine era. After the Arab conquest, Greek was replaced by Arabic
Arabic
, from which a Palmyrene dialect evolved.

Palmyra's society was a mixture of the different peoples inhabiting the city, which is seen in Aramaic, Arabic
Arabic
and Amorite clan names. Palmyra
Palmyra
was a tribal community but due to the lack of sources, an understanding of the nature of Palmyrene tribal structure is not possible. Thirty clans have been documented; five of which were identified as tribes ( Phyle (φυλή) ) comprising several sub-clans. By the time of Nero
Nero
Palmyra
Palmyra
had four tribes, each residing in an area of the city bearing its name. Three of the tribes were the Komare , Mattabol and Ma\'zin ; the fourth tribe is uncertain, but was probably the Mita. In time, the four tribes became highly civic and tribal lines blurred; by the second century clan identity lost its importance, and it disappeared during the third century. Even the four tribes ceased to be important by the third century as only one inscription mentions a tribe after the year 212; instead, aristocrats played the decisive role in the city's social organization. During the Umayyad
Umayyad
period Palmyra
Palmyra
was mainly inhabited by the Kalb tribe. Benjamin of Tudela recorded the existence of 2,000 Jews in the city during the twelfth century. Palmyra
Palmyra
declined after its destruction by Timur
Timur
in 1400, and was a village of 6,000 inhabitants at the beginning of the 20th century; although surrounded by Bedouin, the villagers preserved their dialect. Palmyra
Palmyra
maintained the life of a small settlement until its relocation in 1932.

CULTURE

The scarce artifacts found in the city dating to the Bronze Age reveal that, culturally, Palmyra
Palmyra
was most affiliated with western Syria. Classical Palmyra
Palmyra
had a distinctive culture, based on a local Semitic tradition, and influenced by Greece and Rome. To appear better integrated into the Roman Empire, some Palmyrenes adopted Greco-Roman names, either alone or in addition to a second native name. The extent of Greek influence on Palmyra's culture is debated. Scholars interpreted the Palmyrenes' Greek practices differently; many see those characters as a superficial layer over a local essence. Palmyra's senate was an example; although Palmyrene texts written in Greek described it as a "boule " (a Greek institution), the senate was a gathering of non-elected tribal elders (a Near-Eastern assembly tradition). Others view Palmyra's culture as a fusion of local and Greco-Roman traditions. Palmyrene loculi (burial chambers) reassembled in İstanbul Archaeological Museum Palmyrene mummy

The culture of Persia influenced Palmyrene military tactics, dress and court ceremonies. Palmyra
Palmyra
had no large libraries or publishing facilities, and it lacked an intellectual movement characteristic of other Eastern cities such as Edessa
Edessa
or Antioch. Although Zenobia opened her court to academics, the only notable scholar documented was Cassius Longinus .

Palmyra
Palmyra
had a large agora . However, unlike the Greek Agoras (public gathering places shared with public buildings), Palmyra's agora resembled an Eastern caravanserai more than a hub of public life. The Palmyrenes buried their dead in elaborate family mausoleums, most with interior walls forming rows of burial chambers (loculi ) in which the dead, laying at full length, were placed. A relief of the person interred formed part of the wall's decoration, acting as a headstone. Sarcophagi appeared in the late second century and were used in some of the tombs. Many burial monuments contained mummies embalmed in a method similar to that used in Ancient Egypt .

ART AND ARCHITECTURE

Further information: Palmyrene funerary reliefs Interior of the Tower of Elahbel , in 2010

Although Palmyrene art was related to that of Greece , it had a distinctive style unique to the middle- Euphrates
Euphrates
region. Palmyrene art is well represented by the bust reliefs which seal the openings of its burial chambers. The reliefs emphasized clothing, jewelry and a frontal representation of the person depicted, characteristics which can be seen as a forerunner of Byzantine art . According to Michael Rostovtzeff , Palmyra's art was influenced by Parthian art . However, the origin of frontality that characterized Palmyrene and Parthian arts is a controversial issue; while Parthian origin has been suggested (by Daniel Schlumberger ), Michael Avi-Yonah contends that it was a local Syrian tradition that influenced Parthian art. Little painting, and none of the bronze statues of prominent citizens (which stood on brackets on the main columns of the Great Colonnade), have survived. A damaged frieze and other sculptures from the Temple of Bel, many removed to museums in Syria
Syria
and abroad, suggest the city's public monumental sculpture.

Many surviving funerary busts reached Western museums during the 19th century. Palmyra
Palmyra
provided the most convenient Eastern examples bolstering an art-history controversy at the turn of the 20th century: to what extent Eastern influence on Roman art replaced idealized classicism with frontal, hieratic and simplified figures (as believed by Josef Strzygowski and others). This transition is seen as a response to cultural changes in the Western Roman Empire
Roman Empire
, rather than artistic influence from the East. Palmyrene bust reliefs, unlike Roman sculptures, are rudimentary portraits; although many reflect high quality individuality, the majority vary little across figures of similar age and gender.

Like its art, Palmyra's architecture was influenced by the Greco-Roman style, while preserving local elements (best seen in the Temple of Bel). Enclosed by a massive wall flanked with traditional Roman columns, Bel's sanctuary plan was primarily Semitic. Similar to the Second Temple
Second Temple
, the sanctuary consisted of a large courtyard with the deity's main shrine off-center against its entrance (a plan preserving elements of the temples of Ebla and Ugarit
Ugarit
).

SITE

CEMETERIES

Further information: Tower of Elahbel Valley of Tombs in 2010 The senate Baths of Diocletian The statue of Al-lāt (equated with Athena) found in its temple (destroyed in 2015) The Funerary Temple no.86 Diocletian's walls

West of the ancient walls, the Palmyrenes built a number of large-scale funerary monuments which now form the Valley of Tombs, a 1-kilometre-long (0.62 mi) necropolis . The more than 50 monuments were primarily tower-shaped and up to four stories high. Towers were replaced by funerary temples in the first half of the second century AD, as the most recent tower is dated to AD 128. The city had other cemeteries in the north, southwest and southeast, where the tombs are primarily hypogea (underground).

NOTABLE STRUCTURES

Public Buildings

Further information: Camp of Diocletian and Roman Theatre at Palmyra

* THE SENATE building is largely ruined. It is a small building that consists of a peristyle courtyard and a chamber that has an apse at one end and rows of seats around it. * Much of the BATHS OF DIOCLETIAN are ruined and do not survive above the level of the foundations. The complex's entrance is marked by four massive Egyptian granite columns each 1.3 metres (4 ft 3 in) in diameter, 12.5 metres (41 ft) high and weigh 20 tonnes. Inside, the outline of a bathing pool surrounded by a colonnade of Corinthian columns is still visible in addition to an octagonal room that served as a dressing room containing a drain in its center. * The AGORA of Palmyra
Palmyra
is part of a complex that also includes the tariff court and the triclinium, built in the second half of the first century AD. The agora is a massive 71 by 84 metres (233 by 276 ft) structure with 11 entrances. Inside the agora, 200 columnar bases that used to hold statues of prominent citizens were found. The inscriptions on the bases allowed an understanding of the order by which the statues were grouped; the eastern side was reserved for senators, the northern side for Palmyrene officials, the western side for soldiers and the southern side for caravan chiefs. * The TARIFF COURT is a large rectangular enclosure south of the agora and sharing its northern wall with it. Originally, the entrance of the court was a massive vestibule in its southwestern wall. However, the entrance was blocked by the construction of a defensive wall and the court was entered through three doors from the Agora. The court gained its name by containing a 5 meters long stone slab that had the Palmyrene tax law inscribed on it. * The TRICLINIUM OF THE AGORA is located to the northwestern corner of the Agora
Agora
and can host up to 40 person. It is a small 12 by 15 metres (39 by 49 ft) hall decorated with Greek key motifs that run in a continuous line halfway up the wall. The building was probably used by the rulers of the city; Henri Arnold Seyrig proposed that it was a small temple before being turned into a triclinium or banqueting hall.

Temples

* The TEMPLE OF BEL was dedicated in AD 32; it consisted of a large precinct lined by porticos ; it had a rectangular shape and was oriented north-south. The exterior wall was 205-metre (673 ft) long with a propylaea , and the cella stood on a podium in the middle of the enclosure. * The TEMPLE OF BAALSHAMIN dates to the late 2nd century BC in its earliest phases; its altar was built in AD 115, and it was substantially rebuilt in AD 131. It consisted of a central cella and two colonnaded courtyards north and south of the central structure. A vestibule consisting of six columns preceded the cella which had its side walls decorated with pilasters in Corinthian order. * The TEMPLE OF NABU is largely ruined. The temple was Eastern in its plan; the outer enclosure's propylaea led to a 20 by 9 metres (66 by 30 ft) podium through a portico of which the bases of the columns survives. The peristyle cella opened onto an outdoor altar. * The TEMPLE OF AL-LāT is largely ruined with only a podium, a few columns and the door frame remaining. Inside the compound, a giant lion relief (Lion of Al-lāt
Al-lāt
) was excavated and in its original form, was a relief protruding from the temple compound's wall. * The ruined TEMPLE OF BAAL-HAMON was located on the top of Jabal al-Muntar hill which oversees the spring of Efqa. Constructed in AD 89, it consisted of a cella and a vestibule with two columns. The temple had a defensive tower attached to it; a mosaic depicting the sanctuary was excavated and it revealed that both the cella and the vestibule were decorated with merlons .

Other Buildings

* The GREAT COLONNADE was Palmyra's 1.1-kilometre-long (0.68 mi) main street; most of the columns date to the second century AD and each is 9.50 metres (31.2 ft) high. * The FUNERARY TEMPLE NO.86 (also known as the House Tomb) is located at the western end of the Great Colonnade. It was built in the third century AD and has a portico of six columns and vine patterns carvings. Inside the chamber, steps leads down to a vault crypt. The shrine might have been connected to the royal family as it is the only tomb inside the city's walls. * The TETRAPYLON was erected during the renovations of Diocletian at the end of the third century. It is a square platform and each corner contains a grouping of four columns. Each column group supports a 150 tons cornice and contains a pedestal in its center that originally carried a statue. Out of sixteen columns, only one is original while the rest are from reconstruction work by the Syrian Directorate-General of Antiquities in 1963, using concrete. The original columns were brought from Egypt and carved out of pink granite. * The city's current WALLS were erected during the reign of Diocletian whose fortification of the city enclosed about 80 hectares, a much smaller area than the original pre-273 city. The Diocletianic walls had protective towers and fortified gateways.

The pre-273 walls were narrow and while encircling the whole city, they do not seem to have provided real protection against an invasion. No signs of towers or fortified gates exist and it cannot be proven that the walls enclosed the city as many gaps appears to have never been defended. The earlier walls seem to have been designed to protect the city against Bedouins and to provide a costume barrier.

DESTRUCTION BY ISIL

See also: Destruction of cultural heritage by ISIL § Palmyra
Palmyra
Bel's temple entrance arch remains after the destruction of the cella

According to eyewitnesses, on 23 May 2015 the militants destroyed the Lion of Al-lāt
Al-lāt
and other statues; this came days after the militants gathered the citizens and promised not to destroy the city's monuments. ISIL destroyed the Temple of Baalshamin on 23 August 2015 according to Syria's antiquities chief Maamoun Abdulkarim and activists. On 30 August 2015, ISIL destroyed the cella of the Temple of Bel . On 31 August 2015, the United Nations confirmed the temple was destroyed ; the temple's exterior walls and entrance arch remain.

It became known on 4 September 2015 that ISIL had destroyed three of the best preserved tower tombs including the Tower of Elahbel . On 5 October 2015, news media reported ISIL is destroying buildings with no religious meaning, including the Arch of Triumph . On 20 January 2017, news emerged that the militants destroyed the tetrapylon and part of the theater. Following the March 2017 capture of Palmyra
Palmyra
by the Syrian Army, Maamoun Abdulkarim, director of antiquities and museums at the Syrian Ministry of Culture , stated that the damage to ancient monuments may be lesser than earlier believed and preliminary pictures showed almost no further damage than what was already known. Antiquities official Wael Hafyan stated that the Tetrapylon was badly damaged while the damage to the facade of the Roman theatre was less serious in relativity.

Restoration

Digital reconstruction of the Temple of Bel
Temple of Bel
(New Palmyra project)

In response to the first destruction, on 21 October 2015, Creative Commons started the New Palmyra
Palmyra
project, an online repository of three-dimensional models representing the city's monuments; the models were generated from images gathered, and released into the public domain, by the Syrian internet advocate Bassel Khartabil between 2005 and 2012. About the destruction during the second ISIL occupation, Abdulkarim states “This time, they don’t seem to have damaged Palmyra
Palmyra
as badly as we feared.” and states that "approximately 80% of Palmyra’s antiquities are in fairly good condition and 15% of those more heavily damaged also can and will be restored." Consultations with the UNESCO, UN specialized agencies, archaeological associations and museums produced plans to restore Palmyra; the work is postponed until the violence in Syria
Syria
ends as many international partners fear for the safety of their teams as well as ensuring that the restored artifacts will not be damaged again by further battles. The general director of the Czech National Museum , Michal Lukeš, signed an agreement in June 2017 committing the institution to help Syria
Syria
save, preserve and conserve much of its cultural and historical heritage damaged by war, including the ancient site of Palmyra; he met with Abdulkarim and discussed plans for the works that are said to last until 2019.

Minor restorations have already begun; two Palmyrene funerary busts of a deceased man and a woman, damaged and defaced by ISIL, were taken from Palmyra, then to Beirut
Beirut
to be sent off to Rome. Italian experts restored the portraits using 3D technology to print resin prosthetics, which were coated with a thick layer of stone dust to blend in with the original stone; the prosthetics were attached to the damaged faces of the busts using strong magnets. The restored pieces are now back in Syria. Abdulkarim said the restoration of the busts "is the first real, visible positive step that the international community has taken to protect Syrian heritage". In July 2017, the discoverer of Ebla , Paolo Matthiae , speaking in the "Faces of Palmyra" ("I Volti de Palmyra") exhibition in Aquileia , said that: "The archaeological site of Palmyra
Palmyra
is a vast field of ruins and only 20-30% of it is seriously damaged. Unfortunately these included important parts, such as the Temple of Bel, while the Arc of Triumph can be rebuilt." He added: "In any case, by using both traditional methods and advanced technologies, it might be possible to restore 98% of the site".

HISTORY

Efqa spring, which dried up in 1994

The site at Palmyra
Palmyra
provided evidence for a Neolithic
Neolithic
settlement near Efqa, with stone tools dated to 7500 BC. Archaeological sounding in the tell beneath the Temple of Bel
Temple of Bel
uncovered a mud-brick structure built around 2500 BC, followed by structures built during the Middle Bronze Age
Bronze Age
and Iron Age.

EARLY PERIOD

The city entered the historical record during the Bronze Age
Bronze Age
around 2000 BC, when Puzur-Ishtar the Tadmorean (Palmyrene) agreed to a contract at an Assyrian trading colony in Kultepe . It was mentioned next in the Mari tablets as a stop for trade caravans and nomadic tribes, such as the Suteans , and was annexed along with its region by Yahdun-Lim of Mari. King Shamshi-Adad I of Assyria passed through the area on his way to the Mediterranean at the beginning of the 18th century BC; by then, Palmyra
Palmyra
was the easternmost point of the kingdom of Qatna , and it was attacked by the Suteans who paralyzed the traffic along the trade routes. Palmyra
Palmyra
was mentioned in a 13th-century BC tablet discovered at Emar , which recorded the names of two "Tadmorean" witnesses. At the beginning of the 11th century BC, King Tiglath-Pileser I of Assyria recorded his defeat of the " Arameans " of "Tadmar"; according to the king, Palmyra
Palmyra
was part of the land of Amurru . The city became the eastern border of Aram- Damascus
Damascus
which was annexed by the Neo-Assyrian Empire in 732 BC.

The Hebrew Bible (Second Book
Book
of Chronicles 8:4) records a city by the name "Tadmor" as a desert city built (or fortified) by King Solomon
Solomon
of Israel ; Flavius Josephus
Josephus
mentions the Greek name "Palmyra", attributing its founding to Solomon
Solomon
in Book
Book
VIII of his _ Antiquities of the Jews _. Later Arabic
Arabic
traditions attribute the city's founding to Solomon's Jinn
Jinn
. The association of Palmyra
Palmyra
with Solomon
Solomon
is a conflation of "Tadmor" and a city built by Solomon
Solomon
in Judea
Judea
and known as "Tamar" in the Books of Kings (1 Kings 9:18). The biblical description of "Tadmor" and its buildings does not fit archaeological findings in Palmyra, which was a small settlement during Solomon's reign in the 10th century BC.

HELLENISTIC AND ROMAN PERIODS

The Temple of Baalshamin 's interior (destroyed in 2015)

During the Hellenistic period under the Seleucids
Seleucids
(between 312 and 64 BC), Palmyra
Palmyra
became a prosperous settlement owing allegiance to the Seleucid king. In 217 BC, a Palmyrene force led by Zabdibel joined the army of King Antiochus III in the Battle of Raphia which ended in a Seleucid defeat by Ptolemaic Egypt . In the middle of the Hellenistic era, Palmyra, formerly south of the al-Qubur wadi, began to expand beyond its northern bank. By the late second century BC, the tower tombs in the Palmyrene Valley of Tombs and the city temples (most notably, the temples of Baalshamin
Baalshamin
, Al-lāt
Al-lāt
and the Hellenistic temple) began to be built.

In 64 BC the Roman Republic
Roman Republic
annexed the Seleucid kingdom, and the Roman general Pompey
Pompey
established the province of Syria
Syria
. Palmyra
Palmyra
was left independent, trading with Rome and Parthia but belonging to neither. The earliest known Palmyrene inscription is dated to around 44 BC; Palmyra
Palmyra
was still a minor sheikhdom , offering water to caravans which occasionally took the desert route on which it was located. However, according to Appian
Appian
Palmyra
Palmyra
was wealthy enough for Mark Antony to send a force to conquer it in 41 BC. The Palmyrenes evacuated to Parthian lands beyond the eastern bank of the Euphrates
Euphrates
, which they prepared to defend.

Autonomous Palmyrene Region

Cella
Cella
of the Temple of Bel
Temple of Bel
(destroyed in 2015) Palmyra's theater (damaged in 2017) Arch of Triumph in the eastern section of Palmyra's colonnade (destroyed in 2015)

Palmyra
Palmyra
became part of the Roman Empire
Roman Empire
when it was annexed and paid tribute early in the reign of Tiberius
Tiberius
, around 14 AD. The Romans included Palmyra
Palmyra
in the province of Syria
Syria
, and defined the region's boundaries; a boundary marker laid by Roman governor Silanus was found 75 kilometres (47 mi) northwest of the city at Khirbet el-Bilaas . A marker at the city's southwestern border was found at Qasr al-Hayr al-Gharbi , and its eastern border extended to the Euphrates
Euphrates
valley. This region included numerous villages subordinate to the center such as al-Qaryatayn (35 other settlements have been identified by 2012). The Roman imperial period brought great prosperity to the city, which enjoyed a privileged status under the empire—retaining much of its internal autonomy, being ruled by a council, and incorporating many Greek city-state (polis ) institutions into its government.

The earliest Palmyrene text attesting a Roman presence in the city dates to 18 AD, when the Roman general Germanicus
Germanicus
tried to develop a friendly relationship with Parthia; he sent the Palmyrene Alexandros to Mesene , a Parthian vassal kingdom. This was followed by the arrival of the Roman legion Legio X Fretensis the following year. Roman authority was minimal during the first century AD, although tax collectors were resident, and a road connecting Palmyra
Palmyra
and Sura was built in AD 75. The Romans used Palmyrene soldiers, but (unlike typical Roman cities) no local magistrates or prefects are recorded in the city. Palmyra
Palmyra
saw intensive construction during the first century, including the city's first walled fortifications, and the Temple of Bel
Temple of Bel
(completed and dedicated in 32 AD). During the first century Palmyra
Palmyra
developed from a minor desert caravan station into a leading trading center, with Palmyrene merchants establishing colonies in surrounding trade centers.

Palmyrene trade reached its apex during the second century, aided by two factors; the first was a trade route built by Palmyrenes, and protected by garrisons at major locations, including a garrison in Dura-Europos manned in 117 AD. The second was the Roman annexation of the Nabataean capital Petra
Petra
in 106, shifting control over southern trade routes of the Arabian Peninsula from the Nabataeans to Palmyra.

In 129 Palmyra
Palmyra
was visited by Hadrian
Hadrian
, who named it "Hadriane Palmyra" and made it a free city . Hadrian
Hadrian
promoted Hellenism throughout the empire, and Palmyra's urban expansion was modeled on that of Greece. This led to new projects, including the theatre , the colonnade and the Temple of Nabu
Nabu
. Roman garrisons are first attested in Palmyra
Palmyra
in 167, when the cavalry Ala I Thracum Herculiana was moved to the city. By the end of the second century, urban development diminished after the city's building projects peaked.

In the 190s, Palmyra
Palmyra
was assigned to the province of Phoenice , newly created by the Severan dynasty
Severan dynasty
. Toward the end of the second century, Palmyra
Palmyra
began a steady transition from a traditional Greek city-state to a monarchy due to the increasing militarization of the city and the deteriorating economic situation; the Severan ascension to the imperial throne in Rome played a major role in Palmyra's transition:

* The Severan-led Roman–Parthian War , from 194 to 217, influenced regional security and affected the city's trade. Bandits began attacking caravans by 199, leading Palmyra
Palmyra
to strengthen its military presence. * The new dynasty favored the city, stationing the Cohors I Flavia Chalcidenorum garrison there by 206. Caracalla
Caracalla
made Palmyra
Palmyra
a colonia between 213 and 216, replacing many Greek institutions with Roman constitutional ones. Severus Alexander , emperor from 222 to 235, visited Palmyra
Palmyra
in 229.

Palmyrene Kingdom

See also: List of Palmyrene monarchs Bust, presumably of Odenaethus; it depicts a man wearing a laurel wreath, which suggests a Roman-style ruler

The rise of the Sasanian Empire
Sasanian Empire
in Persia considerably damaged Palmyrene trade. The Sasanians disbanded Palmyrene colonies in their lands, and began a war against the Roman empire. In an inscription dated to 252 Odaenathus appears bearing the title of exarchos (lord) of Palmyra. The weakness of the Roman empire and the constant Persian danger were probably the reasons behind the Palmyrene council's decision to elect a lord for the city in order for him to lead a strengthened army. Odaenathus approached Shapur I
Shapur I
of Persia to request him to guarantee Palmyrene interests in Persia, but was rebuffed. In 260 the Emperor Valerian fought Shapur at the Battle of Edessa
Edessa
, but was defeated and captured. One of Valerian's officers, Macrianus Major
Macrianus Major
, his sons Quietus and Macrianus , and the prefect Balista rebelled against Valerian's son Gallienus
Gallienus
, usurping imperial power in Syria.

Persian Wars

Odaenathus formed an army of Palmyrenes and Syrian peasants against Shapur. According to the _ Augustan History _, Odaenathus declared himself king prior to the battle. The Palmyrene leader won a decisive victory near the banks of the Euphrates
Euphrates
later in 260 forcing the Persians to retreat. In 261 Odaenathus marched against the remaining usurpers in Syria, defeating and killing Quietus and Balista. As a reward, he received the title _Imperator Totius Orientis_ ("Governor of the East") from Gallienus, and ruled Syria
Syria
, Mesopotamia , Arabia and Anatolia
Anatolia
's eastern regions as the imperial representative. Palmyra
Palmyra
itself remained officially part of the empire but Palmyrene inscriptions started to describe it as a "metrocolonia", indicating that the city's status was higher than normal Roman colonias. In practice, Palmyra
Palmyra
shifted from a provincial city to a de facto allied kingdom.

In 262 Odaenathus launched a new campaign against Shapur, reclaiming the rest of Roman Mesopotamia (most importantly, the cities of Nisibis and Carrhae ), sacking the Jewish city of Nehardea
Nehardea
, and besieging the Persian capital Ctesiphon
Ctesiphon
. Following his victory, the Palmyrene monarch assumed the title King of Kings
King of Kings
. Later, Odaenathus crowned his son Hairan I as co- King of Kings
King of Kings
near Antioch
Antioch
in 263. Although he did not take the Persian capital, Odaenathus drove the Persians out of all Roman lands conquered since the beginning of Shapur's wars in 252 . In a second campaign that took place in 266, the Palmyrene king reached Ctesiphon
Ctesiphon
again; however, he had to left the siege and move north, accompanied by Hairan I, to repel Gothic attacks on Asia Minor . The king and his son were assassinated during their return in 267; according to the _Augustan History_ and Joannes Zonaras , Odaenathus was killed by a cousin (Zonaras says nephew) named in the _History_ as Maeonius . The _Augustan History_ also says that Maeonius was proclaimed emperor for a brief period before being killed by the soldiers. However, no inscriptions or other evidence exist for Maeonius' reign. Zenobia
Zenobia
as Augusta, on the obverse of an Antoninianus.

Odaenathus was succeeded by his son; the ten-year-old Vaballathus . Zenobia
Zenobia
, the mother of the new king, was the _de facto_ ruler and Vaballathus remained in her shadow while she consolidated her power. Gallienus
Gallienus
dispatched his prefect Heraclian to command military operations against the Persians, but he was marginalized by Zenobia and returned to the West. The queen was careful not to provoke Rome, claiming for herself and her son the titles held by her husband while guaranteeing the safety of the borders with Persia and pacifying the Tanukhids in Hauran
Hauran
. To protect the borders with Persia, Zenobia fortified different settlements on the Euphrates
Euphrates
including the citadels of Halabiye and Zalabiye . Circumstantial evidence exist for confrontations with the Sasanians; probably in 269 Vaballathus took the title _Persicus Maximus_ ("The great victor in Persia") and the title might be linked with an unrecorded battle against a Persian army trying to regain control of Northern Mesopotamia.

Palmyrene Empire

Main article: Palmyrene Empire The Palmyrene empire in AD 271

Zenobia
Zenobia
began her military career in the spring of 270, during the reign of Claudius Gothicus . Under the pretext of attacking the Tanukhids, she annexed Roman Arabia . This was followed in October by an invasion of Egypt , ending with a Palmyrene victory and Zenobia's proclamation as queen of Egypt. Palmyra
Palmyra
invaded Anatolia
Anatolia
the following year, reaching Ankara
Ankara
and the pinnacle of its expansion.

The conquests were made behind a mask of subordination to Rome. Zenobia
Zenobia
issued coins in the name of Claudius' successor Aurelian
Aurelian
, with Vaballathus depicted as king; since Aurelian
Aurelian
was occupied with repelling insurgencies in Europe, he tolerated the Palmyrene coinage and encroachments. In late 271, Vaballathus and his mother assumed the titles of Augustus (emperor) and Augusta .

The following year, Aurelian
Aurelian
crossed the Bosphorus
Bosphorus
and advanced quickly through Anatolia. According to one account, Roman general Marcus Aurelius Probus regained Egypt from Palmyra; Aurelian
Aurelian
entered Issus and headed to Antioch
Antioch
, where he defeated Zenobia
Zenobia
in the Battle of Immae . Zenobia
Zenobia
was defeated again at the Battle of Emesa , taking refuge in Homs
Homs
before quickly returning to her capital. When the Romans besieged Palmyra, Zenobia
Zenobia
refused their order to surrender in person to the emperor. She escaped east to ask the Persians for help, but was captured by the Romans; the city capitulated soon afterwards.

Later Roman And Byzantine Periods

Diocletian's camp

Aurelian
Aurelian
spared the city and stationed a garrison of 600 archers, led by Sandarion , as a peacekeeping force. In 273 Palmyra
Palmyra
rebelled under the leadership of Septimius Apsaios , declaring Antiochus (a relative of Zenobia) as Augustus. Aurelian
Aurelian
marched against Palmyra, razing it to the ground and seizing the most valuable monuments to decorate his Temple of Sol . Palmyrene buildings were smashed, residents massacred and the Temple of Bel
Temple of Bel
pillaged.

Palmyra
Palmyra
was reduced to a village and it largely disappeared from historical records of that period. Aurelian
Aurelian
repaired the Temple of Bel, and the Legio I Illyricorum was stationed in the city. Shortly before 303 the Camp of Diocletian , a _castra _ in the western part of the city, was built. The 4-hectare (9.9-acre) camp was a base for the Legio I Illyricorum, which guarded the trade routes around the city. Palmyra
Palmyra
became a Christian city in the decades following its destruction by Aurelian. In late 527, Justinian I
Justinian I
ordered its fortification and the restoration of its churches and public buildings to protect the empire against raids by Lakhmid king Al-Mundhir III ibn al-Nu\'man .

ARAB CALIPHATES

Palmyra
Palmyra
was annexed by the Rashidun Caliphate after its 634 capture by the Muslim
Muslim
general Khalid ibn al-Walid , who took the city on his way to Damascus; an 18-day march by his army through the Syrian Desert from Mesopotamia. By then Palmyra
Palmyra
was limited to the Diocletian camp. After the conquest, the city became part of Homs
Homs
Province .

Umayyad
Umayyad
And Early Abbasid Periods

Palmyra
Palmyra
prospered as part of the Umayyad
Umayyad
Caliphate, and its population grew. It was a key stop on the East-West trade route, with a large _souq _ (market), built by the Umayyads, who also commissioned part of the Temple of Bel
Temple of Bel
as a mosque . During this period, Palmyra
Palmyra
was a stronghold of the Banu Kalb tribe. After being defeated by Marwan II
Marwan II
during a civil war in the caliphate , Umayyad contender Sulayman ibn Hisham fled to the Banu Kalb in Palmyra, but eventually pledged allegiance to Marwan in 744; Palmyra
Palmyra
continued to oppose Marwan until the surrender of the Banu Kalb leader al-Abrash al-Kalbi in 745. That year, Marwan ordered the city's walls demolished.

In 750 a revolt, led by Majza\'a ibn al-Kawthar and Umayyad
Umayyad
pretender Abu Muhammad al-Sufyani , against the new Abbasid Caliphate swept across Syria; the tribes in Palmyra
Palmyra
supported the rebels. After his defeat Abu Muhammad took refuge in the city, which withstood an Abbasid assault long enough to allow him to escape.

Decentralization

Fortifications at the Temple of Bel
Temple of Bel

Abbasid power dwindled during the 10th century, when the empire disintegrated and was divided among a number of vassals. Most of the new rulers acknowledged the caliph as their nominal sovereign, a situation which continued until the Mongol destruction of the Abbasid Caliphate in 1258.

In 955 Sayf al-Dawla , the Hamdanid prince of Aleppo
Aleppo
, defeated the nomads near the city, and built a kasbah (fortress) in response to campaigns by the Byzantine emperors Nikephoros II Phokas and John I Tzimiskes . After the early-11th-century Hamdanid collapse, the region of Homs
Homs
was controlled by the successor Mirdasid dynasty . Earthquakes devastated Palmyra
Palmyra
in 1068 and 1089. In the 1070s Syria was conquered by the Seljuk Empire , and in 1082, the district of Homs
Homs
came under the control of Khalaf , the head of the Mala\'ib tribe. The aforementioned was a brigand and was removed and imprisoned in 1090 by the Seljuq sultan Malik-Shah I . Khalaf's lands were given to Malik-Shah's brother, Tutush I , who gained his independence after his brother's 1092 death and established a cadet branch of the Seljuk dynasty in Syria. Fakhr-al-Din al-Maani Castle

During the early 12th century Palmyra
Palmyra
was ruled by Toghtekin , the Burid atabeg of Damascus, who appointed his nephew governor. Toghtekin's nephew was killed by rebels, and the atabeg retook the city in 1126. Palmyra
Palmyra
was given to Toghtekin's grandson, Shihab-ud-din Mahmud , who was replaced by governor Yusuf ibn Firuz when Shihab-ud-din Mahmud returned to Damascus
Damascus
after his father Taj al-Muluk Buri succeeded Toghtekin. The Burids transformed the Temple of Bel into a citadel in 1132, fortifying the city, and transferring it to the Bin Qaraja family three years later in exchange for Homs.

During the mid-12th century, Palmyra
Palmyra
was ruled by the Zengid king Nur ad-Din Mahmud . It became part of the district of Homs, which was given as a fiefdom to the Ayyubid general Shirkuh in 1168 and confiscated after his death in 1169. Homs
Homs
region was annexed by the Ayyubid sultanate in 1174; the following year, Saladin
Saladin
gave Homs (including Palmyra) to his cousin Nasir al-Din Muhammad as a fiefdom. After Saladin's death, the Ayyubid realm was divided and Palmyra
Palmyra
was given to Nasir al-Din Muhammad's son Al-Mujahid Shirkuh II (who built the castle of Palmyra
Palmyra
known as Fakhr-al-Din al-Maani Castle around 1230). Five years earlier, Syrian geographer Yaqut al-Hamawi described Palmyra's residents as living in "a castle surrounded by a stone wall".

MAMLUK PERIOD

Palmyra
Palmyra
was used as a refuge by Shirkuh II's grandson, al-Ashraf Musa , who allied himself with the Mongol king Hulagu Khan
Hulagu Khan
and fled after the Mongol defeat in the 1260 Battle of Ain Jalut against the Mamluks . Al-Ashraf Musa asked the Mamluk sultan Qutuz for pardon and was accepted as a vassal. Al-Ashraf Musa died in 1263 without an heir, bringing the Homs
Homs
district under direct Mamluk rule.

Al Fadl Principality

Palmyra's gardens

The Al Fadl clan (a branch of the Tayy tribe) were loyal to the Mamluks, and in 1281, Prince Issa bin Muhanna of the Al Fadl was appointed lord of Palmyra
Palmyra
by sultan Qalawun . Issa was succeeded in 1284 by his son Muhanna bin Issa who was imprisoned by sultan al-Ashraf Khalil in 1293, and restored two years later by sultan al-Adil Kitbugha . Muhanna declared his loyalty to Öljaitü of the Ilkhanate in 1312 and was dismissed and replaced with his brother Fadl by sultan an-Nasir Muhammad . Although Muhanna was forgiven by an-Nasir and restored in 1317, he and his tribe were expelled in 1320 for his continued relations with the Ilkhanate, and he was replaced by tribal chief Muhammad ibn Abi Bakr .

Muhanna was forgiven and restored by an-Nasir in 1330; he remained loyal to the sultan until his death in 1335, when he was succeeded by his son. Contemporary historian Ibn Fadlallah al-Omari described the city as having "vast gardens, flourishing trades and bizarre monuments". The Al Fadl clan protected the trade routes and villages from Bedouin
Bedouin
raids, raiding other cities and fighting among themselves. The Mamluks intervened militarily several times, dismissing, imprisoning or expelling its leaders. In 1400 Palmyra
Palmyra
was attacked by Timur
Timur
; the Fadl prince Nu\'air escaped the battle and later fought Jakam , the sultan of Aleppo. Nu'air was captured, taken to Aleppo
Aleppo
and executed in 1406; this, according to Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani , ended the Al Fadl clan's power.

OTTOMAN AND LATER PERIODS

The village, within the Temple of Bel, during the early 20th century

Syria
Syria
became part of the Ottoman Empire
Ottoman Empire
in 1516, and Palmyra
Palmyra
was a center of an administrative district (sanjak ). During the Ottoman era, Palmyra
Palmyra
was a small village in the courtyard of the Temple of Bel. After 1568 the Ottomans appointed the Lebanese prince Ali bin Musa Harfush as governor of Palmyra's sanjak, dismissing him in 1584 for treason.

In 1630 Palmyra
Palmyra
came under the authority of another Lebanese prince, Fakhr-al-Din II , who renovated Shirkuh II's castle (which became known as Fakhr-al-Din al-Maani Castle ). The prince fell from grace with the Ottomans in 1633 and lost control of the village, which remained a separate sanjak until it was absorbed by Zor Sanjak
Sanjak
in 1857. The village became home to an Ottoman garrison to control the Bedouin
Bedouin
in 1867.

In 1918, as World War I
World War I
was ending, the Royal Air Force
Royal Air Force
built an airfield for two planes, and in November the Ottomans retreated from Zor Sanjak
Sanjak
without a fight. The Syrian Emirate 's army entered Deir ez-Zor on 4 December, and Zor Sanjak
Sanjak
became part of Syria. In 1919, as the British and French argued over the borders of the planned mandates , the British permanent military representative to the Supreme War Council Henry Wilson suggested adding Palmyra
Palmyra
to the British mandate . However, the British general Edmund Allenby persuaded his government to abandon this plan. Syria
Syria
(including Palmyra) became part of the French Mandate after Syria's defeat in the Battle of Maysalun on 24 July 1920.

As Palmyra
Palmyra
gained importance to French efforts to pacify the Syrian Desert , a base was constructed in the village near the Temple of Bel in 1921. In 1929 the general director of antiquities in Syria, Henri Arnold Seyrig , began excavating the ruins and convinced the villagers to move to a new, French-built village next to the site. The relocation was completed in 1932; ancient Palmyra
Palmyra
was ready for excavation as its villagers settled into the new village of Tadmur . During World War II
World War II
, the Mandate came under the authority of Vichy France , who gave permission to Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany
to use the airfield at Palmyra; forces of Free France
Free France
, backed by British forces, invaded Syria
Syria
in June 1941, and on 3 July 1941, the British took control over the city in the aftermath of a battle .

Syrian Civil War

Further information: Palmyra offensive (May 2015) , Palmyra
Palmyra
offensive (March 2016) , Palmyra offensive (December 2016) , and Palmyra offensive (2017) The Lion of Al-lāt
Al-lāt
(first century AD), which stood at the entrance of the Temple of Al-lāt
Al-lāt
(destroyed in 2015)

As a result of the Syrian Civil War
Syrian Civil War
, Palmyra
Palmyra
experienced widespread looting and damage by combatants. In 2013, the façade of the Temple of Bel sustained a large hole from mortar fire, and colonnade columns have been damaged by shrapnel . According to Maamoun Abdulkarim, the Syrian Army
Syrian Army
positioned its troops in some archaeological-site areas, while Syrian opposition fighters positioned themselves in gardens around the city.

On 13 May 2015, ISIL launched an attack on the modern town of Tadmur , sparking fears that the iconoclastic group would destroy the adjacent ancient site of Palmyra. On 21 May, some artifacts were transported from the Palmyra
Palmyra
museum to Damascus
Damascus
for safekeeping; a number of Greco-Roman busts, jewelry, and other objects looted from the museum have been found on the international market. ISIL forces entered Palmyra
Palmyra
the same day. Local residents reported that the Syrian air force bombed the site on 13 June, damaging the northern wall close to the Temple of Baalshamin . Palmyra\'s theatre was used as a place of public executions of ISIL opponents; videos were released by ISIL showing the killing of Syrian prisoners in front of crowds. On 18 August, Palmyra's retired antiquities chief Khaled al-Asaad was beheaded by ISIL after being tortured for a month to extract information about the city and its treasures; al-Asaad refused to give any information to his captors.

Syrian government forces supported by Russian airstrikes recaptured Palmyra
Palmyra
on 27 March 2016 after intense fighting against ISIL fighters. According to initial reports, the damage to the archaeological site was less extensive than anticipated, with numerous structures still standing. Following the recapture of the city, Russian de-mining teams began clearing mines planted by ISIL prior to their retreat. Following heavy fighting, ISIL reportedly reoccupied the city on 11 December 2016, prompting an offensive by the Syrian Army
Syrian Army
which retook the city on 2 March 2017.

GOVERNMENT

_ Inscription in Greek and Aramaic honoring the strategos _ Julius Aurelius Zenobius

From the beginning of its history to the first century AD Palmyra
Palmyra
was a petty sheikhdom , and by the first century BC a Palmyrene identity began to develop. During the first half of the first century AD, Palmyra
Palmyra
incorporated some of the institutions of a Greek city (polis ); the concept of citizenship (demos ) appears in an inscription, dated to AD 10, describing the Palmyrenes as a community. In AD 74, an inscription mentions the city's boule (senate). The tribal role in Palmyra
Palmyra
is debated; during the first century, four treasurers representing the four tribes seems to have partially controlled the administration but their role became ceremonial by the second century and power rested in the hands of the council.

The Palmyrene council consisted of about six hundred members of the local elite (such as the elders or heads of wealthy families or clans), representing the city's four-quarters. The council, headed by a president, managed civic responsibilities; it supervised public works (including the construction of public buildings), approved expenditures, collected taxes, and appointed two archons (lords) each year. Palmyra's military was led by _strategoi _ (generals) appointed by the council. Roman provincial authority set and approved Palmyra's tariff structure, but the provincial interference in local government was kept minimal as the empire sought to ensure the continuous success of Palmyrene trade most beneficial to Rome. An imposition of direct provincial administration would have jeopardized Palmyra's ability to conduct its trading activities in the East, especially in Parthia.

With the elevation of Palmyra
Palmyra
to a colonia around 213–216, the city ceased being subject to Roman provincial governors and taxes. Palmyra incorporated Roman institutions into its system while keeping many of its former ones. The council remained, and the _strategos_ designated one of two annually-elected magistrates . This _duumviri _ implemented the new colonial constitution, replacing the archons. Palmyra's political scene changed with the rise of Odaenathus and his family; an inscription dated to 251 describes Odaenathus' son Hairan I as "Ras" (lord) of Palmyra
Palmyra
(exarch in the Greek section of the inscription) and another inscription dated to 252 describes Odaenathus with the same title. Odaenathus was probably elected by the council as exarch, which was an unusual title in the Roman empire and was not part of the traditional Palmyrene governance institutions. Whether Odaenathus' title indicated a military or a priestly position is unknown, but the military role is more likely. By 257 Odaenathus was known as a _consularis _, possibly the _legatus _ of the province of Phoenice . In 258 Odaenathus began extending his political influence, taking advantage of regional instability caused by Sasanian aggression; this culminated in the Battle of Edessa, Odaenathus' royal elevation and mobilization of troops, which made Palmyra
Palmyra
a kingdom.

The monarchy continued most civic institutions, but the duumviri and the council were no longer attested after 264; Odaenathus appointed a governor for the city. In the absence of the monarch, the city was administered by a viceroy . Although governors of the eastern Roman provinces under Odaenathus' control were still appointed by Rome, the king had overall authority. During Zenobia's rebellion, governors were appointed by the queen. Not all Palmyrenes accepted the dominion of the royal family; a senator, Septimius Haddudan, appears in a later Palmyrene inscription as aiding Aurelian's armies during the 273 rebellion. After the Roman destruction of the city, Palmyra
Palmyra
was ruled directly by Rome, and then by a succession of other rulers, including the Burids and Ayyubids, and subordinate Bedouin chiefs—primarily the Fadl family, who governed for the Mamluks.

MILITARY

Relief
Relief
in the Temple of Bel
Temple of Bel
depicting Palmyrene war gods

Due to its military character and efficiency in battle, Palmyra
Palmyra
was described by Irfan Shahîd as the " Sparta
Sparta
among the cities of the Orient, Arab and other, and even its gods were represented dressed in military uniforms." Palmyra's army protected the city and its economy, helping extend Palmyrene authority beyond the city walls and protecting the countryside's desert trade routes. The city had a substantial military; Zabdibel commanded a force of 10,000 in the third century BC, and Zenobia
Zenobia
led an army of 70,000 in the Battle of Emesa . Soldiers were recruited from the city and its territories, spanning several thousand square kilometers from the outskirts of Homs to the Euphrates
Euphrates
valley. Non-Palmyrene soldiers were also recruited; a Nabatean cavalryman is recorded in 132 as serving in a Palmyrene unit stationed at Anah . Palmyra's recruiting system is unknown; the city might have selected and equipped the troops and the _strategoi_ led, trained and disciplined them.

The _strategoi_ were appointed by the council with the approval of Rome. The royal army in the mid 3rd century AD was under the leadership of the monarch aided by generals, and was modeled on the Sasanians in arms and tactics. The Palmyrenes were noted archers. They used infantry while a heavily armored cavalry (clibanarii ) constituted the main attacking force. Palmyra's infantry was armed with swords, lances and small round shields; the clibanarii were fully armored (including their horses), and used heavy spears (kontos ) 3.65 metres (12.0 ft) long without shields.

Relations With Rome

Citing the Palmyrenes' combat skills in large, sparsely populated areas, the Romans formed a Palmyrene auxilia to serve in the Imperial Roman army . Vespasian
Vespasian
reportedly had 8,000 Palmyrene archers in Judea
Judea
, and Trajan established the first Palmyrene Auxilia in 116 (a camel cavalry unit, Ala I Ulpia dromedariorum Palmyrenorum). Palmyrene units were deployed throughout the Roman Empire, serving in Dacia late in Hadrian's reign, and at El Kantara in Numidia and Moesia
Moesia
under Antoninus Pius . During the late second century Rome formed the Cohors XX Palmyrenorum , which was stationed in Dura-Europos .

RELIGION

Right to left: Bel, Yarhibol, Aglibol
Aglibol
and Baalshamin
Baalshamin
Baalshamin
Baalshamin
(center), Aglibol
Aglibol
(left) and Malakbel (right) An Altar
Altar
found in Trastevere
Trastevere
dedicated to Malakbel bearing the epithet Sol Sanctissimus

Palmyra's gods were primarily part of the northwestern Semitic pantheon , with the addition of gods from the Mesopotamian and Arab pantheons. The city's chief pre-Hellenistic deity was called Bol, an abbreviation of Baal
Baal
(a northwestern Semitic honorific). The Babylonian cult of Bel-Marduk influenced the Palmyrene religion and by 217 BC the chief deity's name was changed to Bel . This did not indicate the replacing of the northwestern Semitic Bol with a Mesopotamian deity, but was a mere change in the name.

Second in importance after the supreme deity, were over sixty ancestral gods of the Palmyrene clans. Palmyra
Palmyra
had unique deities, such as the god of justice and Efqa's guardian Yarhibol
Yarhibol
, the sun god Malakbel , and the moon god Aglibol
Aglibol
. Palmyrenes worshiped regional deities, including the greater Levantine gods Astarte
Astarte
, Baal-hamon , Baalshamin
Baalshamin
and Atargatis
Atargatis
; the Babylonian gods Nabu
Nabu
and Nergal , and the Arab Azizos , Arsu , Šams and Al-lāt
Al-lāt
.

The deities worshiped in the countryside were depicted as camel or horse riders and bore Arab names. The nature of those deities is uncertain as only names are known, most importantly Abgal . The Palmyrene pantheon included ginnaye (some were given the designation "Gad "), a group of lesser deities popular in the countryside, who were similar to the Arab jinn and the Roman genius . Ginnaye were believed to have the appearance and behavior of humans, similar to Arab jinn. Unlike jinn, however, the ginnaye could not possess or injure humans. Their role was similar to the Roman genius: tutelary deities who guarded individuals and their caravans, cattle and villages.

Although the Palmyrenes worshiped their deities as individuals, some were associated with other gods. Bel had Astarte-Belti as his consort, and formed a triple deity with Aglibol
Aglibol
and Yarhibol
Yarhibol
(who became a sun god in his association with Bel). Malakbel was part of many associations, pairing with Gad Taimi and Aglibol, and forming a triple deity with Baalshamin
Baalshamin
and Aglibol. Palmyra
Palmyra
hosted an Akitu (spring festival) each Nisan
Nisan
. Each of the city's four-quarters had a sanctuary for a deity considered ancestral to the resident tribe; Malakbel and Aglibol's sanctuary was in the Komare quarter. The Baalshamin
Baalshamin
sanctuary was in the Ma'zin quarter, the Arsu sanctuary in the Mattabol quarter, and the Atargatis
Atargatis
sanctuary in the fourth tribe's quarter.

The priests of Palmyra
Palmyra
were selected from the city's leading families, and are recognized in busts through their headdresses which have the shape of a polos adorned with laurel wreath or other tree made of bronze among other elements. The high priest of Bel's temple was the highest religious authority and headed the clergy of priests who were organized into collegia each headed by a higher priest. The personals of Efqa spring's sanctuary dedicated to Yarhibol
Yarhibol
belonged to a special class of priests as they were oracles. Palmyra's paganism was replaced with Christianity
Christianity
as the religion spread across the Roman Empire, and a bishop was reported in the city by 325. Although most temples became churches, the Temple of Al-lāt
Al-lāt
was destroyed in 385 at the order of Maternus Cynegius (the eastern praetorian prefect ). After the Muslim
Muslim
conquest in 634 Islam
Islam
gradually replaced Christianity, and the last known bishop of Palmyra
Palmyra
was consecrated in 818.

MALAKBEL AND THE ROMAN SOL INVICTUS

In 274, following his victory over Palmyra, Aurelian
Aurelian
dedicated a large temple of Sol Invictus in Rome; most scholars consider Aurelian’s Sol Invictus to be of Syrian origin, either a continuation of emperor Elagabalus
Elagabalus
cult of Sol Invictus Elagabalus
Elagabalus
, or Malakbel of Palmyra. The Palmyrene deity was commonly identified with the Roman god Sol and he had a temple dedicated for him on the right bank of the Tiber since the second century. Also, he bore the epithet Invictus and was known with the name Sol "Sanctissimus", the latter was an epithet Aurelian
Aurelian
bore on an inscription from Capena .

The position of the Palmyrene deity as Aurelian's Sol Invictus is inferred from a passage by Zosimus reading: "and the magnificent temple of the sun he (i.e. Aurelian) embellished with votive gifts from Palmyra, setting up statues of Helios
Helios
and Bel". Three deities from Palmyra
Palmyra
exemplified solar features: Malakbel, Yarhibol
Yarhibol
and Shamash
Shamash
, hence the identification of the Palmyrene Helios
Helios
appearing in Zosimus' work with Malakbel. Some scholars criticize the notion of Malakbel's identification with Sol Invictus; according to Gaston Halsberghe , the cult of Malakbel was too local for it to become an imperial Roman god and Aurelian's restoration of Bel's temple and sacrifices dedicated to Malakbel were a sign of his attachment to the sun god in general and his respect to the many ways in which the deity was worshiped. Richard Stoneman suggested another approach in which Aurelian
Aurelian
simply borrowed the imagery of Malakbel to enhance his own solar deity. The relation between Malakbel and Sol Invictus can not be confirmed and will probably remain unresolved.

ECONOMY

See also: Canalizations of Zenobia
Zenobia
Palmyra's Agora; the two front entrances lead to the interior, the city's marketplace

Palmyra's economy before and at the beginning of the Roman period was based on agriculture, pastoralism, trade, and serving as a rest station for the caravans which sporadically crossed the desert. By the end of the first century BC, the city had a mixed economy based on agriculture, pastoralism, taxation, and, most importantly, the caravan trade. Taxation was an important source of revenue for the Palmyrene government. Caravaneers paid taxes in the building known as the Tariff Court, where a tax law dating to AD 137 was exhibited. The law regulated the tariffs paid by the merchants for goods sold at the internal market or exported from the city.

Classlcist Andrew M. Smith II suggests most land in Palmyra
Palmyra
was owned by the city, which collected grazing taxes. The oasis had about 1,000 hectares (2,500 acres) of irrigable land, which surrounded the city. The Palmyrenes constructed an extensive irrigation system in the northern mountains that consisted of reservoirs and channels to capture and store the occasional rainfall. The most notable irrigation work is Harbaqa Dam which was constructed in the late first century AD; it is located 48 km (30 mi) southwest of the city and can collect 140,000 cubic metres (4,900,000 cu ft) of water. The countryside was intensively planted with olive, fig , pistachio and barley . However, agriculture could not support the population and food was imported.

After Palmyra's destruction in 273, it became a market for villagers and nomads from the surrounding area. The city regained some of its prosperity during the Umayyad
Umayyad
era, indicated by the discovery of a large Umayyad
Umayyad
_souq_ in the colonnaded street. Palmyra
Palmyra
was a minor trading center until its destruction in 1400; according to Sharaf ad-Din Ali Yazdi , Timur's men took 200,000 sheep, and the city was reduced into a settlement on the desert border whose inhabitants herded and cultivated small plots for vegetables and corn.

COMMERCE

The Silk Road
Silk Road

During the first centuries AD, Palmyra's main trade route ran east to the Euphrates
Euphrates
where it connected at the city of Hīt . The route then ran south along the river toward the port of Charax Spasinu
Charax Spasinu
on the Persian Gulf
Persian Gulf
, where Palmyrene ships traveled back and forth to India. Goods were imported from India, China and Transoxiana , and exported west to Emesa (or Antioch) then the Mediterranean ports, from which they were distributed throughout the Roman Empire. In addition to the usual route some Palmyrene merchants used the Red Sea , probably as a result of the Roman–Parthian Wars . Goods were carried overland from the seaports to a Nile
Nile
port, and then taken to the Egyptian Mediterranean ports for export. Inscriptions attesting a Palmyrene presence in Egypt date to the reign of Hadrian.

Since Palmyra
Palmyra
was not on the main trading route (which followed the Euphrates), the Palmyrenes secured the desert route passing their city. They connected it to the Euphrates
Euphrates
valley, providing water and shelter. The Palmyrene route connected the Silk Road
Silk Road
with the Mediterranean, and was used almost exclusively by the city's merchants, who maintained a presence in many cities, including Dura-Europos in 33 BC, Babylon
Babylon
by AD 19, Seleucia
Seleucia
by AD 24, Dendera , Coptos , Bahrain, the Indus River Delta , Merv
Merv
and Rome.

The caravan trade depended on patrons and merchants. Patrons owned the land on which the caravan animals were raised, providing animals and guards for the merchants. The lands were located in the numerous villages of the Palmyrene countryside. Although merchants used the patrons to conduct business, their roles often overlapped and a patron would sometimes lead a caravan. Commerce made Palmyra
Palmyra
and its merchants among the wealthiest in the region. Some caravans were financed by a single merchant, such as Male' Agrippa (who financed Hadrian's visit in 129 and the 139 rebuilding of the Temple of Bel). The primary income-generating trade good was silk, which was exported from the East to the West. Other exported goods included jade, muslin, spices, ebony, ivory and precious stones. For its domestic market Palmyra
Palmyra
imported variety of goods including slaves, prostitutes, olive oil, dyed goods, myrrh and perfume.

EXCAVATIONS

Excavations at Palmyra, 1962, Polish archaeologist Kazimierz Michałowski The Colonnade The Tetrapylon (destroyed in 2017)

Palmyra
Palmyra
was visited by travelers such as Pietro Della Valle (between 1616 and 1625), Jean-Baptiste Tavernier (in 1638) and many Swedish and German explorers. In 1678 a group of English merchants visited the city, and its first scholarly description appeared in a 1696 book by Abednego Seller . In 1751, an expedition led by Robert Wood and James Dawkins studied Palmyra's architecture. French artist and architect Louis-François Cassas conducted an extensive survey of the city’s monuments in 1785, publishing over a hundred drawings of Palmyra’s civic buildings and tombs. Visits by travelers and antiquarians continued, including one made by Lady Hester Stanhope in 1813, and another by Lady Strangford in 1862. Palmrya was photographed for the first time in 1864 by Louis Vignes.

In 1882, the "Palmyrene Tariff", an inscribed stone slab from AD 137 in Greek and Palmyrene detailing import and export taxation, was discovered by prince Abamelek-Lazarev in the Tariff Court. It has been described by historian John F. Matthews as "one of the most important single items of evidence for the economic life of any part of the Roman Empire". In 1901, the slab was gifted by the Ottoman Sultan Abdul Hamid II to the Russian Tsar and is now in the Hermitage Museum in Saint Petersburg
Saint Petersburg
.

Palmyra's first excavations were conducted in 1902 by Otto Puchstein and in 1917 by Theodor Wiegand . In 1929, French general director of antiquities of Syria
Syria
and Lebanon Henri Arnold Seyrig began large-scale excavation of the site; interrupted by World War II
World War II
, it resumed soon after the war's end. Seyrig started with the Temple of Bel
Temple of Bel
in 1929 and between 1939 and 1940 he excavated the Agora. Daniel Schlumberger conducted excavations in the Palmyrene northwest countryside in 1934 and 1935 where he studied different local sanctuaries in the Palmyrene villages. From 1954 to 1956, a Swiss expedition organized by UNESCO excavated the Temple of Baalshamin. Since 1958, the site has been excavated by the Syrian Directorate-General of Antiquities, and Polish expeditions led by many archaeologists including Kazimierz Michałowski (until 1980) and Michael Gawlikowski (until 2011). The stratigraphic sounding beneath the Temple of Bel
Temple of Bel
was conducted in 1967 by Robert du Mesnil du Buisson , who also discovered the Temple of Baal-hamon in the 1970s.

The Polish expedition concentrated its work in the Camp of Diocletian while the Syrian Directorate-General of Antiquities excavated the Temple of Nabu. Most of the hypogea were excavated jointly by the Polish expedition and the Syrian Directorate, while the area of Efqa was excavated by Jean Starcky and Jafar al-Hassani . The Palmyrene irrigation system was discovered in 2008 by Jørgen Christian Meyer who researched the Palmyrene countryside through ground inspections and satellite images. Most of Palmyra
Palmyra
still remains unexplored especially the residential quarters in the north and south while the necropolis has been thoroughly excavated by the Directorate and the Polish expedition. Excavation expeditions left Palmyra
Palmyra
in 2011 due to the Syrian Civil War.

In 1980, the historic site including the necropolis outside the walls was declared a World Heritage Site
World Heritage Site
by the UNESCO. In November 2010 the Austrian media manager Helmut Thoma admitted looting a Palmyrene grave in 1980, stealing architectural pieces for his home; German and Austrian archaeologists protested against the theft.

SEE ALSO

* Ancient Near East portal * Syria
Syria
portal

* Aureliano in Palmira * Crisis of the Third Century * Palmyrene (Unicode block) * Thirty Tyrants (Roman) * Septimius Worod * Zabdas

NOTES

* ^ The Semitic word T.M.R is the common root for the words that designate palm dates in Arabic
Arabic
, Hebrew , Ge\'ez and other Semitic languages. Schultens argued that in the Bible (1 Kings 9:18), the name is written "Tamor" in the text and "Tadmor" in the margin. Schultens considered "Tamor" to be the original name and derived from "Tamar". However, the inclusion of a -_d_- in "Tamar" cannot be explained. * ^ Pliny mentioned that Palmyra
Palmyra
was independent, but by AD 70, Palmyra was part of the Roman empire and Pliny's account over Palmyra's political situation is dismissed by modern scholars, as it is considered to rely on older accounts, dating to the period of Octavian , when Palmyra
Palmyra
was independent. * ^ The last inscription written in Palmyrene is dated to 279/280.

* ^ E.g for Aramaic: Gaddibol and Yedi'bel. E.g for Arab: Bene Ma'zin. E.g for Amorite: Zmr' and Kohen-Nadu. * ^ The Phyle are the Bene Mita, Komare, Mattabol, Ma'zin and Claudia. * ^ In general, a civic tribe (Phyle) is a collection of people chosen from the collective population and ascribed a deity as a tribal ancestor, then assigned a territory for them to reside in. The Phyles were united by their citizenship instead of origin. * ^ The clans might have gathered under the name of the four tribes causing them to disappear. * ^ E.g. by the second century AD, Palmyrene goddess Al-lāt
Al-lāt
was portrayed in the style of the Greek goddess Athena
Athena
, and named Athena-Al-lāt. However, this assimilation of Al-lāt
Al-lāt
to Athena
Athena
did not extend beyond iconography. * ^ In the Hellenistic tradition, the agora was the center of athletic, artistic, spiritual and political life of the city. * ^ There are hints of Greek training; the names of three Greeks who worked on the construction of the Temple of Bel
Temple of Bel
are known through inscriptions, including a probably Greek architect named Alexandras (Αλεξάνδρας). However, some Palmyrenes adopted Greco-Roman names and native citizens with the name Alexander are attested in the city. * ^ The attribution of Palmyra
Palmyra
annexation to Tiberius
Tiberius
was supported by Seyrig and became the most influential. However, other dates have been suggested ranging from as early as Pompey
Pompey
's era to as late as Vespasian
Vespasian
's reign. * ^ The exact year for when Palmyra
Palmyra
first made use of some Greek institutions is not known; the evidence that specifically identify Palmyra
Palmyra
as a polis is not extensive, and the earliest known reference is an inscription dated to AD 51, written in Palmyrene and Greek, mentioning the "City of the Palmyrenes" in its Greek section.

* ^ Despite his Greek name, Alexandros was probably a native Palmyrene. There is no evidence that Germanicus
Germanicus
visited Palmyra. * ^ The legion was part of Germanicus' eastern campaign and was not stationed in the city as a garrison. * ^ Commissioned by Traianus . * ^ The transformation already began in the first century BC. * ^ Although Palmyra
Palmyra
benefiting from the annexation of Petra
Petra
is a mainstream view, it should be noted that Palmyra's trade was mostly with the East, while Petra's trade counted on southern Arabia. In addition to the fact that Palmyra
Palmyra
and Petra
Petra
traded in different articles, hence the annexation of Petra
Petra
might have not had a real effect on Palmyra's trade. * ^ The Ala I Thracum Herculiana was a _milliaria_. Generally, a _milliaria_ consisted of a thousand horsemen. * ^ No evidence exist for Roman units serving in the ranks of Odaenathus; whether Roman soldiers fought under Odaenathus or not is a matter of speculation. * ^ The Mesopotamian Jewish population was regarded by the Palmyrenes as loyal to the Persians. * ^ The first decisive evidence for the use of this title for Odaenathus is an inscription dated to 271, posthumously describing Odaenathus as "King of Kings". Known inscriptions dating to his reign address him as king. However, Odaenathus' son Hairan I, is directly attested as "King of Kings" during his lifetime. Hairan I was proclaimed by his father as co-ruler and was assassinated during the same assassination incident that took the life of Odaenathus and it is unlikely that Odaenathus was simply a king while his son held the King of Kings title. * ^ Claudius died in August 270, shortly before Zenobia's invasion of Egypt. * ^ Scholarly is divided whether this was an act of independence declaration, or a usurpation of the Roman throne. * ^ All other accounts indicate that a military action was not necessary, as it seems that Zenobia
Zenobia
withdrawn her forces in order to defend Syria. * ^ Named in Ottoman system "Salyane Sanjak", which is a Sanjak that had an annual allowance from the government, in contrast to the Khas Sanjaks, which yielded a land revenue. * ^ The British did not occupy the area and the local Bedouins agreed to protect the field. * ^ Neither the British, French or Arab armies attacked the Sanjak.

* ^ The number of 600 is hypothetical. * ^ Hairan I was described as "Ras" in 251 indicating that Odaenathus was promoted at that time as well. * ^ The Palmyrene army that invaded Egypt was mainly composed of clibanarii supported by archers. * ^ A Palmyrene monument was discovered near Newcastle in England, it was set by a Palmyrene named _Baratas_, who was either a soldier or a camp follower. * ^ The fourth tribe's name is not certain but most likely the Mita. * ^ Richard Stoneman proposes that the law regulated taxes imposed on goods destined for the internal market and did not cover the transit trade.

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