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Palmyra

PALMYRA

ancient city in an oasis of the northern syrian desert at the site of present-day tadmur.

The first mention of Tadmur (or Tamar, city of dates), Palmyra's ancient and modern name, goes back to the nineteenth century b.c.e. It was probably a Caananite town that later came under Aramaic influence. In the third century b.c.e., the city achieved international prominence when the Seleucids made it a transfer point of east-west trade. Through trade contacts, the city absorbed Hellenic culture and the Greek language, which was spoken alongside Aramaic, Arabic, Syriac, and other languages. From the time of the reign of Emperor Tiberius (1437 c.e.), the city came under Roman control and was renamed Palmyra (city of palms). During the Pax Romana and with the benefit of paved Roman roads, the city's commercial fortunes expanded.


Palmyra's golden age was the third century c.e. Emperor Caracalla (211217 c.e.) granted Palmyra the status of a Roman colony, exempting it from taxes. The city became the chief way station between Damascus and the Euphrates river. Goods came on caravans of camels from Rome, Egypt, India, the Persian Gulf, and from China along the silk route. Some Palmyran merchants owned ships that sailed the Indian Ocean. Palmyra's busy bazaars and ruling institutions were housed in fine Roman and Mesopotamian stone buildings with Corinthian colonnades, whose ruins remain in good condition today. Palmyra became the seat of the personal empire of Septimius Odaenathus, a member of a local Arab tribe, who gained the title Emperor of the East after saving the Roman Emperor Valerian in 260 from capture by the Sassanian king, Shahpur I.


From 267 to 272 c.e., the city was ruled by Queen Zenobia. Under her vigorous rule, Palmyra in 270 conquered Syria, Egypt, and Anatolia. Zenobia

then declared the empire of Palmyra independent of Rome, but two years later, Roman Emperor Aurelian reconquered all the territory and plundered the city of Palmyra. Zenobia tried to flee by camel toward the Euphrates, but was captured and taken to Rome, where she lived the rest of her days. Palmyra was reduced from a capital to a small frontier city after the destruction caused by Aurelian's reconquest in 273.


Ancient Palmyrenes worshiped the deity Bol (also Baal or Bel) who presided over the movements of the stars. Bol's chief sanctuary, shared with the sun and moon gods Yarhibol and Algibol, still stands. Greek and Roman deities were incorporated into the local belief system. In the second century, the worship of a single unnamed god became important, and by 325, a Palmyra bishop attended the Nicaean Council.


In 634, Khalid ibn al-Walid conquered Palmyra and assimilated it into the expanding Muslim caliphate. The city was destroyed by an earthquake in 1089 and reportedly had a mere two thousand inhabitants in the twelfth century. After the city was sacked by Tamerlane at the end of the fourteenth century, it fell into ruins. In the seventeenth century, Fakhr al-Din of Lebanon used Palmyra as a military training ground and erected a castle on a hill nearby.

The city was first excavated in 1929, and restorations have continued since then. Today, Tadmur is a city of thirty thousand inhabitants, the site of tourist facilities and a prison.


Bibliography


Bulliet, Richard W. The Camel and the Wheel. New York: Columbia University Press, 1990.

Starcky, J., and Gawlikowski, M. Palmyre, revised edition. Paris: Librairie d'Amérique et d'Orient, 1985.

elizabeth thompson

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Palmyra (ancient city, Syria)

Palmyra (pălmī´rə), ancient city of central Syria. A small modern village known as Tudmur is on the site. An oasis N of the Syrian Desert, 130 mi (209 km) NE of Damascus, Palmyra was important in Syrian-Babylonian trade by the 1st cent. BC Palmyra became of true importance only after Roman control was established (c.AD 30). Local tribes vied for control, which fell to the Septimii by the 3d cent. AD Septimius Odenathus built Palmyra into a strong autonomous state that practically embraced the Eastern Empire, including Syria, NW Mesopotamia, and W Armenia. After his death his widow, Zenobia, briefly expanded the territory, but her ambition brought on (AD 272) an attack by Aurelian, who was victorious and partly destroyed (273) the city. In decline, Palmyra was taken by the Arabs and sacked by Timur. It fell into ruins, and even the ruins were forgotten until the 17th cent. The great temple dedicated to Baal and other remains show the ancient splendor of Palmyra at its prime.

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Palmyra

Palmyra (Tadmur, City of Palms) Ancient oasis city, in the Syrian Desert. By the 1st century bc, it had become a city-state by controlling the trade routes between Mesopotamia and the Mediterranean. In c.ad 30, it became a Roman dependency. By the 2nd century ad, Palmyra's influence had spread to Armenia. In 267, Zenobia became queen, the empire expanded, and she severed the state's links with Rome. In ad 273, Roman Emperor Aurelian laid waste to the city, which was afterwards largely forgotten. Today, tourists visit its extensive ruins.

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Palmyra

Palmyra an ancient city of Syria, an oasis in the Syrian desert north-east of Damascus on the site of present-day Tadmur. First mentioned in the 19th century bc, Palmyra was an independent state in the 1st century bc, becoming a dependency of Rome between the 1st and 3rd centuries ad. A flourishing city on a trade route between Damascus and the Euphrates, it regained its independence briefly under Zenobia. The name is a Greek form of the city's modern and ancient pre-Semitic name Tadmur or Tadmor, meaning ‘city of palms’.

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Palmyra (atoll, Pacific Ocean)

Palmyra, atoll (2 sq mi/5.2 sq km), central Pacific, one of the Line Islands, c.1,100 mi (1,770 km) SW of Honolulu. Palmyra has no permanent inhabitants. First visited by Americans in 1802, and later claimed by the Hawaiian kingdom (1862) and Great Britain (1889), it was annexed by the United States in 1898. Palmyra was under the jurisdiction of Honolulu until Hawaii was granted statehood in 1959. The atoll is now administered by the U.S. Dept. of the Interior. Since 2009 it has been part of the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument.

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palmyra

palmyra palm, Borassus flabellifer. XVII. Formerly palmero, palmeiro — Pg. palmeira, Sp. palmera, It. palmero, f. palma PALM1; the present sp. suggests assim. to Palmyra, name of a city in Syria.

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palmyra

palmyraairer, bearer, carer, Clara, darer, declarer, Demerara, Éire, habanera, Halmahera, parer, Perak, primavera, repairer, Rivera, Riviera, Sarah, scarer, sharer, snarer, sparer, squarer, starer, swearer, tearer, wearer •cause célèbre • torch-bearer •swordbearer • pallbearer • wayfarer •seafarer • capoeira • Phaedra •sacra, simulacra •Libra, vers libre •ex cathedra •chypre, Yprespalaestra (US palestra) • urethra •joie de vivre •mirror, sirrah •Coimbra • Middlesbrough • Indra •Sintra •aspidistra, sistra •algebra • orchestra • vertebra •Beira, Fujairah, Hegira, Lyra, Myra, naira, palmyra, spirogyra •Hydra • Lycra •begorra, Gomorrah, horror •double entendre • genre • amour propre • Le Nôtre • contra •Cosa Nostra, rostra

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