PALMYRA, the Greek and Latin name of a famous city of the East, now a mere collection of Arab hovels, but still an object of interest on account of its wonderful ruins. In 2 Chron. viii. 4, and in the native inscriptions, it is called Tadmor, and this is the name by which it is known among the Arabs at the present day (Tadmur, Tudmur). 1 The site of Palmyra lies 150 m. N.E. of Damascus and five days' camel journey from the Euphrates, in an oasis of the Syrian desert, 1,300 ft. above sea-level. At this point the great trade routes met in ancient times, the one crossing from the Phoenician ports to the Persian Gulf, the other coming up from Petra and south Arabia.
The earliest mention of Palmyra is in 2 Chron. viii. 4, where Solomon is said to have built "Tadmor in the wilderness "; 1 Kings ix. 18, however, from which the Chronicler derived his statement, reads " Tamar " in the Hebrew text, with " Tadmor " in the Hebrew margin; there can be no doubt that the text is right and refers to Tamar in the land of Judah (Ezek. xlvii. 19; xlviii. 28). The Chronicler, we must suppose, altered the name because Tadmor was a city more familiar and renowned in his day, or possibly because he wished to increase the extent of Solomon's kingdom. The date of the Chronicler may be placed about 300 B.C., so Palmyra must have been in existence long before then. There is reason to believe that before the 6th century B.C. the caravans reached Damascus without coming near the oasis of Tadmor; probably, therefore, we may connect the origin of the city with the gradual forward movement of the nomad Arabs which followed on the overthrow of the ancient nationalities of Syria by the Babylonian Empire (6th century B.C.). The Arabian tribes began to take possession of the partly cultivated lands east of Canaan, became masters of the Eastern trade, gradually acquired settled habits, and learned to speak and write in Aramaic, the language which was most widely current throughout the region west of the Euphrates in the time of the Persian Empire (6th-4th century B.C.). It is not till much later that Palmyra first appears in Western literature. We learn from Appian (Bell. civ. v. 9) that in 42-41 B.C. the city was rich enough to excite the cupidity of M. Antonius (Mark Antony), while the population was not too large to save itself by timely flight. The series of native inscriptions, written in Aramaic, begins a few years after; the earliest bears the date 304 of the Seleucid era, i.e. 9 B.C. (Cooke, North-Semitic Inscriptions No. 141 Vogue, Syrie Centrale No. 30a); by this time Palmyra had become an important trade-post between the Roman and the Parthian states. Its characteristic civilization grew out of a mixture of various elements, Arabic, Aramaic, Greek and Roman. The bulk of the population was of Arab race, and though Aramaic was used as the written language, in common intercourse Arabic had by no means disappeared. The proper names and the names of deities, while partly Aramaic, are also in part unmistakably Arabic: it is suggestive that a purely Arabic term (fand, NSI. No. 136) was used for the septs into which the citizens were divided.
Originally an Arab settlement, the oasis was transformed in the course of time from a mere halting-place for caravans to a city of the first rank. The true Arab despises agriculture; but the pursuit of commerce, the organization and conduct of trading caravans, cannot be carried on without widespread connexions of blood and hospitality between the merchant and the leading sheiks on the route. An Arabian merchant city is thus necessarily aristocratic, and its chiefs can hardly be other than pure Arabs of good blood. Palmyra also possessed the character of a religious centre, with the worship of the Sungod dominating that of inferior deities.
The chief luxuries of the ancient world, silks, jewels, pearls, perfumes, incense and the like, were drawn from India, China and southern Arabia. Pliny (N. H. xii. 41) reckons the yearly import of these wares into Rome at not less than three-quarters of a million of English money. The trade followed two routes: 1 How the name Palmyra arose is obscure. The Greek for a palm is cpoivcE, and the Greek ending -yra could not have been affixed to the Latin Palma. Schultens (Vita Sal., Index geogr.) cites Tatmur as a variant of the Arabic name; this might mean " abounding in palms " (from the root tamar); otherwise Tadmor may have been originally an Assyrian name. See Lagarde, Bildung der Nomina, p. 125 n. one by the Red Sea, Egypt and Alexandria, the other from the Persian $Gulf through the Syro-Arabian desert. The latter, when the Nabataean kingdom of Petra (q.v.) came to an end (A.D. 105), passed into the hands of the Palmyrene merchants. Their caravans (auvoeiac) travelled right across the desert to the great entrepots on the Euphrates, Vologesias, about 55 m. southeast of Babylon, or Forath or Charax close to the Persian Gulf (NSI. Nos. 113-115). The trade was enormously profitable, not only to the merchants but to the town, which levied a rigorous duty on all exports and imports; at the same time formidable risks had to be faced both from the desert-tribes and from the Parthians, and successfully to plan or convoy a great caravan came to be looked upon as a distinguished service to the state, often recognized by public monuments erected by " council and people " or by the merchants interested in the venture. These monuments, a conspicuous feature of Palmyrene architecture, took the form of statues placed on brackets projecting from the upper part of the pillars which lined the principal thoroughfares. Thus arose, beside minor streets, the imposing central avenue which, starting from a triumphal arch near the great temple of the Sun, formed the main axis of the city from south-east to north-west for a length of 1240 yards, and at one time consisted of not less than 750 columns of rosy-white limestone, each 55 ft. high.
Local industries do not seem to have been important. One of the chief of them was the production of 'salt from the deposits of the desert; 2 another was no doubt the manufacture of leather; the inscriptions mention also a powerful gild of workers in gold and silver (NSI. No. 126); but Palmyra was not an industrial town, and the exacting fiscal system which drew profit even out of the bare necessaries of life - such as water, oil, wheat, salt, wine, straw, wool, skins (see Tariff ii. b, NSI. pp. 315 sqq.) - must have weighed heavily upon the artisan class. The prominent townsmen were engaged in the organization and even the personal conduct of caravans, the discharge of public offices such as those of strategos, secretary, guardian of the wells, president of the banquets of Bel, chief of the market (see NSI. Nos. 114, 115, 121, 122), sometimes the victualling of a Roman expedition. The capable performance of these functions, which often involved considerable pecuniary sacrifices, ensured public esteem, honorary inscriptions and statues; and to these honours the head of a great house was careful to add the glory of a splendid tomb, consecrated as the long home " (lit. " house of eternity," cf. Eccles. xii. 5) of himself, his sons and his sons' sons for ever. These tombs, which lie outside the city and overlook it from the surrounding hills, a feature characteristically Arabic, remain the most interesting monuments of Palmyra. Some are lofty towers containing sepulchral chambers in stories; 3 others are house-like buildings with a single chamber and a richly ornamented portico; the sides of these chambers within are adorned with the names and sculptured portraits of the dead. As a rule the buildings of Palmyra do not possess any architectural individuality, but these tombs are an exception. The style of all the ruins is late classic and highly ornate, but without refinement.
The rise of Palmyra to a position of political importance may be dated from the time when the Romans established themselves on the Syrian coast. As early as the first imperial period the city must have admitted the suzerainty of Rome, for decrees respecting its custom-dues were issued by Germanicus (A.D. 17-19) and Cn. Domitius Corbulo (A.D. 57-66). At the same time the city had by no means surrendered its independence, for even in the days of Vespasian (A.D. 69-79) the distinctive 2 " The soil of this marsh [east of Palmyra] is so impregnated with salt that a trench or pit sunk in it becomes filled in a short time with concentrated brine, the water of which evaporates in the intense sunshine and leaves an incrustation of excellent salt." Post, Narrative of a Second Journey to Palmyra in Pal. Expl. Fund's Qtly. St. (1892), p. 324.
One of these tomb-towers, called Kasr eth-Thuniyeh, is 111 ft. high, 332 ft. square at the base, 25 ft. 8 in. square above the basement; it contains six stories and places for 480 bodies. Opposite the entrance within is a hall with recesses for coffins and a richly panelled ceiling; underneath is an immense vault.
position of Palmyra as an intermediate state between the two great powers of Rome and Parthia was recognized and carefully watched. The splendid period of Palmyra (A.D. 130-270), to which the greater part of the inscribed monuments belong, started from the overthrow of Petra (A.D. i 05), which left Palmyra without a competitor for the Eastern trade. Hadrian treated the city with special favour, and on the occasion of his visit in A.D. 130, granted it the name of Hadriana Palmyra (,non, -rin NSI. p. 322). Under the same emperor the customs were revised and a new tariff promulgated (April, A.D. 137), cancelling the loose system of taxation " by custom " which formerly had prevailed.' The great fiscal inscription, which still remains where it was set up, gives the fullest picture of the life and commerce of the city. The government was vested in the council (1 30uXii) and people (8rl/20s), and administered by civil officers with Greek titles, the proedros (president), the grammateus (secretary), the archons, syndics and dekaprotoi (a fiscal council of ten), following the model of a Greek municipality under the Roman Empire. At a later date, probably under Septimius Severus or Caracalla (beginning of 3rd century), Palmyra received the Jus italicum and the status of a colony; the executive officials of the council and people were called strategoi, equivalent to the Roman duumviri (NSI. Nos. 121, 127); and Palmyrenes who became Roman citizens began to take Roman names, usually Septimius or Julius Aurelius, in addition to their native names.
It was the Parthian wars of the 3rd century which brought Palmyra to the front, and for a brief period raised her to an almost. dazzling position as mistress of the Roman East. A new career of ambition was opened to her citizens in the Roman honours that rewarded services to the imperial armies during their frequent expeditions in the East. One house which was thus distinguished had risen to a leading place in the city and before long played no small part in the world's history. Its members, as we learn from the inscriptions, prefixed to their Semitic names the Roman gentilicium of Septimius, which shows that they received the citizenship under Septimius Severus (A.D. 193-211), presumably in recognition of their services in connexion with his Parthian expedition. In the next generation Septimius Odainath or Odenathus, son of Hairan, had attained the rank of Roman senator (UlryKX?iTCKOS, Vogue No. 21, NSI. 285 n.). conferred no doubt when Alexander Severus visited Palmyra in A.D. 230-231; his son again, Septimius Hairan, seems to have been the first of the family to receive the title of Ras Tadmor (" chief of Tadmor ") in addition to his Roman rank (NSI. No. 125); while his son - the relationship, though nowhere stated, is practically certain - the famous Septimius Odainath, commonly known as Odenathus (q.v.), the husband of Zenobia, received even higher rank, the consular dignity (inrareK6) which is given him in an inscription dated A.D. 258, in the reign of Valerian (NSI. No. 126). The East was then agitated by the advance of the Parthian Empire under the Sassanidae, and the Palmyrenes, in spite of their Roman honours and their Roman civilization, which did not really go much below the surface, were by no means prepared to commit themselves altogether to the Roman side.' But Parthian ambitions made it necessary for the Palmyrenes to choose one side or other, and their choice leaned towards Rome, both because they dreaded interference with their religious freedom and because the Roman emperor was further off than the Persian king. In the contests which followed there can be no doubt that the Palmyrene princes cherished the idea of an independent empire of their own, though they never threw over their allegiance to the Roman suzerain until the closing act of the drama. Their opportunity came with the disaster which befell the Roman army under Valerian (q.v.) at Edessa, a disaster, says ' The full text, both Greek and Palmyrene, with an English translation, is given in NSI, pp. 313-340. The tariff should be compared with the Greek Tariff of Coptos A.D. 90 (Flinders Petrie, Koptos, pp. 27 sqq.) and the Latin Tariff of Zarai (Corp. inscr. lat. viii. 4508).
' For the general history of the Period see Persia: History, A. § viii., " The Sassanian Empire." Mommsen, which had nearly the same significance for the Roman East as the victory of the Goths at the mouth of the Danube and the fall of Decius; the emperor was captured (A.D. 260) and died in captivity. The Persians swept victoriously over Asia Minor and North Syria; not however without resistance on the part of Odenathus, who inflicted considerable losses on the bands returning home from the pillage of Antioch. It was probably not long after this that Odenathus, with a keen eye for his advantage, made an attempt to attach himself to Shapur I. (q.v.) the Persian king; 3 his gifts and letters, however, were contemptuously rejected, and from that time, as it seems, he threw himself warmly into the Roman cause. After the captivity and death of Valerian, Gallienus succeeded to a merely nominal rule in the East, and was too careless and self-indulgent to take any active measures to recover the lost provinces. Thereupon the two leading generals of the Roman army, Macrianus and Callistus, renounced their allegiance and proclaimed the two sons of the former as emperors (A.D. 261). During the crisis Odenathus remained loyal to Gallienus, and was rewarded for his fidelity by the grant of a position without parallel under ordinary circumstances; as hereditary prince of Palmyra he was appointed dux Orientis, a sort of vice-emperor for the East (A.D. 262). He started promptly upon the work of recovery. With his Palmyrene troops, 4 strengthened by what was left of the Roman army corps, he took the offensive against Shapur, defeated him at Ctesiphon, and in a series of brilliant engagements won back the East for Rome. During his absence at the wars, we learn from the inscriptions (A.D. 262-267) that Palmyra was administered by his deputy Septimius Worod, " procurator ducenarius of Caesar our lord," also styled " commandant," as being Odenathus' viceroy (eci yairETrts, NSI. Nos. 127-129). Then in the zenith of his success Odenathus was assassinated at Moms (Emesa) along with his eldest son Herodes (A.D. 266-267). The fortunes of Palmyra now passed into the vigorous hands of Zenobia, who had been actively supporting her husband in his policy. Zenobia seems to have ruled on hehalf of her young son Wahab-allath or Athenodorus as the name is Graecized, who counts the years of his reign from the date of his father's death. Under Odenathus Palmyra had extended her sway over Syria and Arabia, perhaps also over Armenia, Cilicia and Cappadocia; but now the troops of Zenobia, numbering it is said 70,000, proceeded to occupy Egypt; the Romans under Probus resisted vigorously but without avail, and by the beginning of A.D. 270, when Aurelian succeeded Claudius as emperor, Wahab-allath was governing Egypt with the title of " king." His coins of 270 struck at Alexandria bear the legend v(ir) c(onsularis) R(omanorum) im(perator) d(ux) R(omanorum) and display his head beside that of Aurelian, but the latter alone is styled Augustus. Meanwhile the Palmyrenes were pushing their influence not only in Egypt but in Asia Minor; they contrived to establish garrisons as far west as Ancyra and even Chalcedon opposite Byzantium, while still professing to act under the terms of the joint rule conferred by Gallienus. Then in the course of the year 'A.D. 270-271 came the inevitable and open breach. In Palmyra Zenobia is still called "queen" ((aaLAcvoa, NSI. No. 131; cf. Wadd. 2628), but in distant quarters, such as Egypt, she and her son claim the dignity of Augustus; Petrus Patricius. Fragm. hist. graec. iv. 187.
4 The Palmyrene archers were especially famous. Appian mentions them in connexion with M. Antony's raid in 41 B.C. (Bell. civ. v. 9). Later on a contingent served with the Roman army in Africa, Britain, Italy, Hungary, where grave-stones with Palmyrene and Latin inscriptions have been found; see Lidzbarski, Nordsem. epigr. p. 481 seq.; Ephemeris, ii. 92 (a Latin inscription of the time of Marcus Aurelius), and NSI. p. 312. The South Shields inscription, now in the Free Library of the town, was found in the neighbouring Roman camp; it is given in NSI. p. 250. The Palmyrene soldier who set it up was no doubt an archer. Jewish tradition had reason to remember these formidable Palmyrenes in the Roman armies; according to the Talmud 80,000 of them assisted at the destruction of the first temple, 8000 at that of the second ! Talm. Jerus. Taanith, fol. 68 a, Midrash Ekha, ii. 2. For other references to Palmyra (called Tarmod) in the Talmud see Neubauer Geogr. du Talm. 301 sqq.
Wahab-allath(5th year)begins to issue coins at Alexandria without the head of Aurelian and bearing the imperial title; and Zenobia's coins bear the same. It was at this time (A.D. 271) that the two chief Palmyrene generals Zabda and Zabbai, set up a statue to the deceased Odenathus and gave him the sounding designation of " king of kings and restorer of the whole city " No. 130). These assumptions marked a definite rejection of all allegiance to Rome. Aurelian, the true Augustus, quickly grasped the situation, and took strenuous measures to deal with it. At the close of A.D. 270 Probus brought back Egypt into the empire, not without a considerable struggle; then in 271 Aurelian made preparations for a great campaign against the seat of the mischief itself. He approached by way of Cappadocia, where he reduced the Palmyrene garrisons, and thence through Cilicia he entered Syria. At Antioch the Palmyrene forces under Zabda attempted to resist his advances, but they were compelled to fall back upon the great route which leads from Antioch through Emesa (mod. Iloms) to their native city. At Emesa the Palmyrenes were defeated in a stiffly contested battle. At length Aurelian arrived before the walls of Palmyra, which was captured probably in the spring of A.D. 272. In accordance with the judicious policy which he had observed in Asia Minor and at Antioch, he granted full pardon to the citizens; only the chief officials and advisers were put to death; Zenobia and her son were captured and reserved for his triumph when he returned to Rome. But the final stage in the conquest of the city was yet to come. A few months later, in the autumn of 272 - the latest inscription is dated August 272 (Vogue, No. 116) - the Palmyrenes revolted, killed the Roman garrison quartered in the city, and proclaimed one Antiochus as their chief. Aurelian heard of it just when he had crossed the Hellespont on his way home. He returned instantly before any one expected him, and took the city by surprise. Palmyra was destroyed and the population put to the sword. Aurelian restored the walls and the great Temple of the Sun (A.D. 273); but the city never recovered its splendour or importance.
The language spoken at Palmyra was a dialect of western Aramaic, and belongs to the same group as Nabataean and the Aramaic spoken in Egypt. In some important points, however, the dialect was related to the eastern Aramaic or Syrian (e.g. the plur. ending in e'; the dropping of the final I of the pronominal suffix third pers. sing. with nouns, and of the final u of the third pers. pl. of the verb; the infin. ending u, &c). But the relation to western Aramaic is closer; specially characteristic are the following features: the imperf. beginning with y, not as in Syriac and the eastern dialects with n or 1; the plur. ending -ayya'; the forms of the demonstrative pronouns, &c. As the bulk of the population was of Arab race, it is not surprising that many of the proper names are Arabic and that several Arabic words occur in the inscriptions. The technical terms of municipal government are mostly Greek, transliterated into Palmyrene; a few Latin words occur, of course in Aramaic forms. For further characteristics of the dialect see Nuldeke, ZDMG. xxiv. 85-109. The writing is a modified form of the old Aramaic character, and especially interesting because it represents almost the last stage through which the ancient alphabet passed before it developed into the Hebrew square character.
The names of the months were the same as those used by the Nabataeans, Syrians and later Jews, viz. the Babylonian. The calendar was the Syro-Macedonian, a solar, as distinct from the primitive lunar, calendar, which Roman influence disseminated throughout Syria; it was practically a reproduction of the Julian calendar. Dates were reckoned by the Seleucid era, which began in October 312 B.C.
The religion of Palmyra did not differ in essentials from that of the north Syrians and the Arab tribes of the eastern desert. The chief god of the Palmyrenes was a solar deity, called Samas or Shamash (" sun "), or Bel, or Malak-bel,' whose great temple is still the most imposing feature among the ruins of Palmyra. Both Bel and Malak-bel were of Babylonian origin. Sometimes associated with the Sun-god was `Agli-bol the Moon-god who is represented as a young Roman warrior with a large crescent attached to his shoulders (Rom. 1, and Vogue p1. xii. No. 141). The great goddess of the Aramaeans, `Athar-`atheh, in Greek Atargatis 1 Transcribed MaXax,37)Aos, Malagbelus, &c., and in the Palm. inscr. given in NSI., p. 268, translated Sol sanctissimus; he was further identified with Zeus. Malak-bel has been explained as " messenger of Bel "; but more probably Malak is the common Babylonian epithet malik given to various gods, and means " counsellor "; Malak-bel will then be the sun as the visible representative of Bel.
(q.v.), and Allath, the chief goddess of the ancient Arabs, were also worshipped at Palmyra. Another deity whose name occurs in votive inscriptions, is Baal-shamim, i.e. " B of the heavens," = Zees µEycvros KepafYGoc, sometimes called " lord of eternity," but he was not included among the national gods of Palmyra, so far as we know, though he probably had a temple there. Another interesting divine name, lately discovered, is that of a distinctly Arabic deity " She`aalqum the good and bountiful god who does not drink wine " (NSI. No. 140 B); the name means " he who accompanies, the protector of, the people " - the divine patron of the caravan. A common formula in Palmyrene dedications runs " To him whose name is blessed for ever, the good and the compassionate "; out of reverence the name of the deity was not pronounced; was it Bel or Malak-bel? It is worth noticing that this epithet like " lord of eternity " (or, " of the world "), has a distinctly Jewish character. Altogether about 22 names of gods are found in Palmyrene; some of them, however, only occur in compound proper names.
After its overthrow by Aurelian, Palmyra was partially revived as a military station by Diocletian (end of 3rd century A.D.), as we learn from a Latin inscription found on the site. Before this time Christianity had made its way into the oasis, for among the fathers present at the Council of Nicaea (A.D. 325) was Marinus bishop of Palmyra. The names of two other bishops of the 5th and 6th centuries have come down to us. About A.D. 400, Palmyra was the station of the first Illyrian legion (Not. dign. i. 85, ed. Wicking); Justinian in 527 furnished it with an aqueduct, and built the wall of which the ruins still remain (Procopius, De aedif, ii. II). At the Moslem conquest of Syria, Palmyra capitulated to Khalid (see Caliphate) without embracing Islam (Baladsori [[[Baladhuri]]], seq.; Yagut, i. 831). The town became a Moslem fortress and received a considerable Arab colony; for in the reign of Merwan II. (A.H. 127-132) it sent a thousand Kalbite horsemen to aid the revolt of Emesa, to the district of which it is reckoned by the Arabic geographers. The rebellion was sternly suppressed and the walls of the city destroyed (Ibn al-Athir, A.H. 127, ed. Tornberg V., 249; cf. Frag. hist. ar. 139, Ibn Waeiih, ii. 230). In this connexion Yaqui tells a curious story of the opening of one of the tombs by the caliph, which in spite of fabulous incidents, recalling the legend of Roderic the Goth, shows some traces of local knowledge. The ruins of Palmyra greatly interested the Arabs, and are commemorated in several poems quoted by Yaqut and others; they are referred to by the early poet Nabigha as proofs of the might of Solomon and his sovereignty over their builders the Jinn (Derenbourg, Journ. As. xii. 269) - a legend which must have come from the Jews, who either clung to the ruins after the great overthrow or returned in the time of Diocletian. References to Palmyra in later times have been collected by Quatremere, Sultans Mamlouks, ii. pt. I. p. 255 seq. All but annihilated by earthquake in the 11th century, it recovered considerable prosperity; when Benjamin of Tudela visited the city, which was still called Tadmor, he found 2000 Jews within the walls (12th century). It was still a wealthy place as late as the 14th century; but in the general decline of the East, and owing to changes in the trade routes, it sunk at length to a poor group of hovels gathered in the courtyard of the Temple of the Sun. The ruins first became known to Europe through the visit of Dr William Halifax of Aleppo in 1691; his Relation of a voyage to Tadmor has been printed from his autograph in the Pal. Explor. Fund's Quarterly Statement for 1890. Halifax not only took measurements, but copied 18 Greek and 4 Palmyrene texts. The architecture was carefully studied by Wood and Dawkins in 1751, whose splendid folio (The Ruins of Palmyra, London, 1753) also gave copies of inscriptions. But the epigraphic wealth of Palmyra was first opened to study by the collections of Waddington (vol. iii.) and De Vogue (La Syrie centrale) made in 1861-1862. Since that time the most valuabledocument which has come to light is the great fiscal inscription discovered in 1882 by Prince Abamelek Lazarew.
See also A. D. Mordtmann, Sitzungsb. of the Munich Acad.(1875); Sachau, ZDMG. xxxv. 728 sqq.; D. H. Muller, Palm. Inschr. (1898); J. Mordtmann Palmyrenisches (1899); Clermont-Ganneau, Etudes d'arch. or. i., Receuil. d'arch. or. iii., v., vii.; Lidzbarski, Ephemeris, i. and ii.; Sobernheim, Palm. Inschr. (1905). The Repertoire d'epigr. sem. contains the new texts which have been published since 1900. For the coins von Sallet's Fiirsten von Palmyra (1866) must be read with his later essay in the Num. Zeitschr. ii. 31 sqq. (1870). Critical discussions of the history will be found in Schiller, Gesch. d. Romischen Kaiserzeit., i. 2 Teil (1883), pp. 823 sqq. and 857 sqq., and Mommsen, Provinces of the Roman Empire, (Eng. trans., 1886), pp. 92 sqq. (G. A. C.*)
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