Palmyra is an ancient Semitic city

Palmyra is an ancient Semitic city in present-day Homs Governorate, Syria. Archaeological finds date back to the Neolithic period and the city was first documented in the early second millennium BC. Palmyra changed hands on a number of occasions between different empires, before becoming a subject of the Roman Empire in the first century AD.


Now in an area of 6 square . km is located the temple complex Bel (Baal), a large colonnade, decorated with inscriptions commemorating the legendary Queen Zenobia, baths, a theater, a triumphal arch, the ruins of ancient houses, tombs Valley with unique ahoroneniyami and several dozen funeral towers.

When the Roman emperor Trajan Palmyra was destroyed, but Adrian (117 -. 138 years BC) rebuilt it and renamed to Adrianople, saving him the status of “free city.” There was a Roman army to a civilian Palmyra archers and camel cavalry, established under Trajan, was the main military force of the inhabitants of Palmyra. For his service archers generously rewarded allotments and slaves.

The city grew wealthy from trade caravans; the Palmyrenes, renowned merchants, established colonies along the 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 and the distinctive tower tombs. The Palmyrenes were a mix of Amorites, Arameans and 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, influenced by Greco-Roman culture, produced distinctive art and architecture that combined eastern and western traditions. The city’s inhabitants worshiped local deities and Mesopotamian and Arab gods.


Main Street Palmyra, lies on the ancient caravan route, decorated with monumental columns and arches. It adjoins the Agora – the area for public gatherings. In the center of town stands the ancient building with a graceful arch that served as the entrance to the theater. Following the Roman fashion trends, palmirtsy staged in the arena of the amphitheater gladiatorial combat. In Palmyra survived one of the greatest works of ancient Syria – the temple of Bel. It is dedicated to the supreme god Bela, who was worshiped as the god of thunder, the god of fertility, water, war and so on. He sacrificed sheep, camels, oxen and goats. To this day the altar survived only a foundation and a hole in the rock, in the shape of clover leaves. This hole was designed to drain the blood, because in a time of great pagan celebrations on the sacrificial altar killed whole herds of animals.

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


Surviving buildings of Palmyra largely contributed to their location in the desert sands, away from the big cities and move to south trade routes. Ruins of Palmyra is located in the valley between the ridges of the hills Dzhsbel- Khayan and Jabal al-Carr. The city has an ellipse shape, stretching from southeast to northwest. Its length is about two kilometers, the width of the half. Well preserved defensive walls, which are arranged in a ring main monuments of the city. Building materials for the city’s buildings were the yellow sandstone, white crystalline limestone and pink Aswan granite, brought from Egypt.

Before 273 AD, Palmyra enjoyed autonomy and was attached to the Roman province of 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 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.


Sanctuary Bela and Baalshamina – not only religious buildings in Palmyra. But only two of these temple preserved almost completely and give a clear picture of the Palmyra temple buildings.
Along the Grand Colonnade has many large public buildings. Directly behind the triumphal arch, to the left of the colonnade, is the sanctuary of the god of the Syrian Nabq – analogue of the Greek Apollo. The rectangular temple in I -building. BC, surrounded by solemn colonnade of six columns on the end and twelve – on the sides. The walls were decorated with painted porches. From this temple remained a high podium with stairs, which can be seen the base of the columns.

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 is exposed to the Syrian Desert.

Opposite the temple ruins of the huge rise set term, constructed, as the preserved inscription, Sosianom Hierocles, the governor of Syria under the Emperor Diocletian. However, archaeologists have found that under Diocletian was made a reconstruction of the term, and the building itself is built on a hundred years earlier. With its size and wealth of decoration Palmyra terms not inferior to the famous Roman baths, but today they survived only by a portico with monolithic columns of porphyry and rectangular pool, which went down the stone stairs. Baths were supplied with water from a source located to the north-west of the city. Preserved part was walking out plumbing.

Palmyra began as a small settlement near the Efqa spring on the southern bank of 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.

Agora is surrounded by a variety of largest facilities. One of them, with its massive walls and wide doors, it was obviously a caravanserai. Not far from the agora was found a huge slab-stela length of almost 5 meters, related to 137 AD – The famous “Palmyra” tariff. Stella provides written in Greek and Aramaic Senate decisions on taxes and fees, which are subject to the city, for example, for the use of water from the source. This plate, discovered in 1881 by the Russian traveler Abamelek-Lazarev. It is now kept at the State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg.
Latest works of Palmyra – Diocletian’s camp. At its center was set up area, which now dominate the ruins of the Temple of banners, where he once kept fighting banners of the Roman legions. From the temple survived back wall, a monumental staircase in the sixteen stages, the lower parts of the walls and a large number of richly ornamented blocks flanking the doorways. The inscription above the entrance informs the name of the builder of Diocletian camp – Sosiana Hierocles.


Comments are closed.