1902 Encyclopedia > Palmyra


PALMYRA is the Greek and Latin name of a famous city of the East, now sunk to a mere hamlet, but still an object of interest for its wonderful ruins, which its Semitic inhabitants and neighbours called Tadmor. The latter name, which is found in the Bible (2 Chron. viii. 5), and is written _____ [Heb.] and _____ [Heb.] in Palmyrene inscriptions, has survived to the present day, and is now locally pro-nounced Tudmir or Tidmir. The site of Palmyra is an oasis in the desert that separates Syria from 'Irak, about 50 hours' ride or 150 miles north-east from Damascus, 32 hours from Emcsa, and five days' camel journey from the Euphrates. The hills which fringe the oasis mark the northern limit of the Hammad, the springless and stony central region of the great Syrian desert. The direct route between the Phoenician ports and the cities of 'Irak and the Persian Gulf would be from Damascus eastward through the Hammdd, but this region is so inhospitable that for at least two thousand years caravans have preferred to make a detour to the north and pass through the oasis of Tadmor. At this point also the great line between the Persian Gulf and the Mediterranean is intersected by other routes connecting Palmyra with northern Syria on the one hand and with Bostra, Petra, and central Arabia on the other - -routes now deserted or little traversed, but which in 1 ancient times were of very considerable consequence, especially in connexion with the overland incense trade. The oasis was thus naturally marked out as a trading post of some importance, but the commanding position which Palmyra held in the 2d and 3d centuries of our era was due to special causes. The rise and fall of Palmyra form one of the most interesting chapters in ancient history, and must be studied not only from ancient writers but from the numerous inscriptions that have been collected from the ruins of the city and the tombs that surround it.

The oldest notice of Palmyra is in 2 Chron. viii. 5, when Tadmor in the wilderness is said to have been built by Solomon. But the source of this statement is 1 Kings ix. 1S, and here the name is TME, which cannot be read Tadmor, and from the context—in which Judaean towns are spoken of—is almost certainly the Tamar of Ezek. xlvii. 19, xlviii. 28. It is indeed extremely improbable that Solomon, whose policy was to enrich Judah by developing the Red Sea traffic, and so carrying the trade of the East to the Mediterranean ports through his own country, would have encouraged the rival route by Tadmor, which lies quite outside the Israelite settlements, and passes through districts over which Solomon was unable to maintain even the recognition of suzerainty which David had extorted by his Syrian wars. After the time of Solomon the Red Sea trade was interrupted, and an over-land caravan trade from Phoenicia to Yemen and the Persian Gulf took its place. But neither on the cuneiform inscriptions nor in the Old Testament writings prior to Chronicles, not even in Ezekiel's account of the trading connexions of Tyre, is there any mention of Tadmor ; up to the 6th century B.C. the caravans seem to have been organized by merchants of southern or central Arabia, and they probably reached Damascus byway of Duma (Jauf Beni'Amir) and the W. Sirhan, without coining near the oasis of Palmyra (see especially Isa. xxi. 11 sq.; Ezek. xxvii.). On the other hand Tadmor cannot have been a new place when the Biblical Chronicler ascribed its foundation to Solomon, and thus we shall hardly be wrong in connecting its origin with the gradual forward move-ment of the nomadic Arabs which followed on the over-throw of the ancient nationalities of Syria by the Chaldrean empire. Arabian tribes then took possession of the partly cultivated lands cast of Canaan, and, as has been explained in the article NABATEANS, became masters of the Eastern trade, gradually acquired settled habits, and learned civilization and the use of writing from the Aramaeans, whose language was in current official and commercial use in the Persian empire west of the Euphrates. The Nabataeans of Petra naturally appear in Western literature before the remote Palmyrenes, who are not even mentioned by Strabo. But we learn from Appian (Bell. Civ., v. 9) that in 42-41 B.C. the city was rich enough to excite the cupidity of Mark Antony, and that the population was still small and mobile enough to evade that cupidity by timely flight. The series of Semitic inscriptions of Palmyra begins a few years later. The oldest (De Vogué, 30) bears the date 304 of the Seleucid era (9 B.C.), and was placed upon one of the characteristic tower-shaped tombs which overlooked the city from the surrounding hill-sides. The dialect and the writing (a form of the " square " character) are western Aramaic ; the era, as we have just seen, is Greek, the calendar Macedonian ; and these influences, to which that of Eome was soon added, were the determining factors in Palmyrene civilization. The proper names and the names of deities are also partly Syriac, but in part they are unmistakably Arabic. The Arabic element appears in the names of members of the chief families, and these retain some distinctive grammati-cal forms which suggest that, though Aramaic was the written language, Arabic may have not been quite obsolete in common life. That the town was originally an Arabic settlement is further rendered probable by the use of a purely Arabic term ("ins " fahdh ") for the septs into which the townsmen were divided. And thus we can best explain how, when the oasis was occupied by a settlement of Arabs, it gradually rose 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, is an honourable business which gives full scope to all the personal qualities which the Bedouin values, and cannot be successfully conducted without widespread connexions of blood and hospitality between the merchant and the leading sheikhs on the caravan route. An Arabian merchant city is thus neces-sarily aristocratic, and its chiefs can hardly be other than pure Arabs of good blood. _ The position of Palmyra in this respect may be best illustrated by the analogy of Mecca. In both cities the aristocracy was commercial, and the ruling motive of all policy lay in the maintenance of the caravan trade, which involved a constant exercise of tact and personal influence, since a blood feud or petty tribal war might close the trade routes at any moment. To keep the interests of commerce free from these embar-rassments, it was further indispensable to place them under the sanctions of religion, and, though we cannot prove that this policy was carried out at Palmyra with the same consistency and success as at Mecca, we can trace significant analogies which point in this direction. Mecca became the religious centre of Arabia in virtue of the cosmopolitan worship of the Ka'ba, in which all tribes could join without surrendering their own local gods. So at Palmyra, side by side with the worship of minor deities, we find a central cultus of Baal (Bel or Malachbel) identified with " the most holy sun. " To him belonged the great temple in the south-east of the city with its vast fortress-like courtyard 256 yards square, lined with colonnades in the style of Herod's temple ; and the présidence of the banquets of his priests, an office coveted by the first citizens of Palmyra (W., 2606, a), may be compared with the Meccan rifâda, or right of entertaining the pilgrims. And, just as in Mecca the central worship ultimately became the worship of the supreme and name-less god (Allah), so in Palmyra a large proportion of the numerous votive altars are simply dedicated to " the good and merciful one, blessed be his name for ever." In Palmyra as at Mecca the name Rahman (merciful) may be due to the influence of the Jewish colony, which settled in the town after the destruction of Jerusalem; but the tendency to a universal religion, of which the dropping of the local proper name of God is so decided a mark, and which nevertheless is accompanied by no such rejection of polytheism as made Jehovah and Elohim synonymous in the religion of the Hebrew prophets, appears too early to be due to Jewish teaching (Mordtmann, 1), and seems as at Mecca to be rather connected with the cosmopolitanism of a merchant city. A secondary parallelism with Mecca is found in the sacred fountain of Ephka. Its tepid and sulphureous waters perhaps acquired their reputation from their medicinal use to cure the rheumatism which has always prevailed in Palmyra. This spring, like Zemzem at Mecca, had a guardian, appointed by the " moon-lord " Yarhibol (W., 2571, c; De V., 30), whose oracle is alluded to in another inscription, and who may therefore be com-pared with the Meccan Hobal.

The wars between Rome and Parthia favoured the growth of Palmyra, which astutely used its secluded posi-tion midway between the two powers, and by a trimming policy secured a great measure of practical independence and continuous commercial relations with both (Appian, nt sup.; Pliny, v. 89). These wars, too, must have given it a share in the trade with north Syria, which in more peace-ful times would not have chosen the desert route. To some extent, however, the oasis soon came under Roman control, for decrees regulating the custom-dues were issued for it by Germanicus and Corbulo. The splendid period of Palmyra, to which the greater part of the inscribed monuments belong, began with the overthrow of the Nabataean kingdom of Petra (105 A.D.), which left it without a commercial rival. Hadrian took Palmyra into his special favour, and gave it on the occasion of his visit to the town (circa 130 A.D.) the name of Adrianopolis.* Under the same emperor (8th April 137) the customs and dues of Palmyra were regulated by a law which has recently been copied from the stone on which it was engraved, and gives the fullest picture of the life and commerce of the city. At this time the supreme legislative authority lay in the hands of a senate (/3ovXr/), with a president, a scribe, two archons, and a fiscal council of ten. At a later date, probably under Septimius Severus or Caracalla, Palmyra received the jus italicum and became a Roman colony, and according to usage the legislative power came into the hands of the senate and people under the administration of officers called strategi. The Romans had soon other than commercial reasons to favour Palmyra, which became an important military post, and turned its commercial organization to good account in aiding the movements of the legions marching against the Persians (De V., 15). It was the Persian wars that raised Palmyra to brief political importance, and made it for a few years the mistress of the Roman East; but before we pass to this last epoch of its greatness we must attempt to describe the aspect and life of the city during the century and a half of its chief commercial prosperity.

The chief luxuries of the ancient world—silks, jewels, pearls, perfumes, and the like—were drawn from India, China, and southern Arabia; and Pliny computes 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, one by the Red Sea, Egypt, and Alexandria, the other from the Persian Gulf through the Syro-Arabian desert. The latter, after the fall of Petra, was in the hands of the Palmyrene merchants. West of Palmyra there were Roman roads, and the bales could be conveyed in waggons, but east of the oasis there was no road, and the caravans of Palmyra traversed the desert either to Vologesias (near the ancient Babylon and the later Cufa), where water carriage was available, or to Forath on the Pasitigris and Charax at the head of the Persian Gulf. The trade was enormously profitable not only to the merchants but to the town, which levied a rigorous duty on all exports and imports, and even farmed out the water of the two wells; but the dangers of the desert and the risks of Parthian or Persian hostility were also formidable, and successfully to plan or conduct a great caravan was a distinguished service to the state, often recognized by public monuments erected by the " senate and people," or by the merchants of the caravan. These monuments, which form a conspicuous feature in Palmyrene architec-ture, took the form of statues placed on pedestals project-ing from the upper part of the long rows of pillars which lined the chief streets; for every great merchant was eager to see his name handed down to posterity by an enduring memorial, and to add to the colonnades a series of pillars " with all their ornaments, with their brazen capitals (T) and painted ceilings," was the received way of honouring others or winning honour for oneself. Thus arose, besides minor streets, the great 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 feet high. We must suppose that this and the other pillared streets were shaded from the fierce heat of the sun like a modern bazaar; and in some parts the pillars seem to have served to support a raised footway, from which loungers could look down at their ease on the creaking waggons piled with bales of silk or purple wool or heavy with Grecian bronzes designed to adorn some Eastern palace, the long strings of asses laden with skins or alabastra of precious unguents, the swinging camels charged with olive oil from Palestine or with grease and hides from the Arabian deserts, and the motley crew of divers nationalities which crowded the street beneath—the slave merchant with his human wares from Egypt or Asia Minor, the Roman legionary and the half-naked Saracen, the Jewish, Persian, and Armenian merchants, the street hawkers of old clothes, the petty hucksters at the corners offering roasted pine cones, salt fish, and other cheap dainties, the tawdry slave-girls, whose shameful trade went to swell the coffers of the state, the noisy salt auction, presided over by an officer of the customs. The production of " pure salt " from the deposits of the desert was apparently one of the chief local industries, and another which could not be lacking on the confines of Arabia was the manufacture of leather. We read too, on the inscriptions, of a guild of workers in gold and silver; but Palmyra was not a great industrial town, and the exacting fiscal system, which reached the most essential industries, and drew profit from the barest necessaries of life, must have weighed heavily on the artizan classes. Though all quarters of the town still show traces of splendid buildings, wealth was probably confined to a comparatively small number of great families, and we must picture Palmyra in its best days as displaying a truly Oriental compound of magnifi-cence and squalor, where the mud or straw-built huts of the poor stood hard by the palaces of the merchant princes.

The life of the mass of the population was the unchanging life of the Eastern poor; the great families too remained essentially Oriental under the varnish of their Greek culture and Roman citizenship. The life of a prominent townsman included an active share in the organization and even the personal conduct of caravans, the discharge of civic offices, perhaps the superintendence of the market and the victualling of a Roman expedition. The capable discharge of these functions, which sometimes involved considerable pecuniary sacrifices, ensured public esteem, laudatory inscriptions, and statues, and to these honours the head of a great house was careful to add the glory of a splendid family tomb, consecrated as the " long home "(_____ [Heb.] —the same phrase as in Eccles. xii. 5) of himself, his sons, and his sons' sons "for ever." These tombs, which lie outside the city, are perhaps the most interesting monuments of Palmyra. Some are lofty square towers, with as many as five sepulchral chambers occupy-ing successive stories, and overlooking the town and its approaches—a feature characteristically Arabic—from the slopes of the surrounding hills. Others are house-like buildings of one story, a richly decorated portico opening into a hall whose walls are adorned with the names and sculptured portraits of the dead. The scale of these monuments corresponds to the wide conception of an Eastern family, from which dependants and slaves were not excluded ; and on one inscription, in striking contrast with Western usage, a slave is named with the sons of the house (De V., 33, a). The tombs are the only buildings of Palmyra that have any architectural individuality; the style of all the ruins is late classic, highly ornate, but without refinement.

The frequent Eastern expeditions of Rome in the 3d century brought Palmyra into close connexion with several emperors, and opened a new career of ambition to her citizens in the Roman honours that rewarded services to the imperial armies. One house which was thus distin-guished was to play 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, presumably on the occasion of his Parthian expedition. In the next generation Septimius Odsenathus (Odhainat), son of Hairan, son of Wahballath, son of Nassor, had attained the rank of a Roman senator, conferred no doubt when Alexander Severus visited Palmyra (comp. De V., 15). The East was then stirred by the progress of the new Sasanian empire, and the Palmyrene aristocracy, in spite of its Roman honours, had probably never cordially fallen in with the changes which had made Palmyra a colony and a military station. Indeed the Romanizing process had only changed the surface life of the place; it lay in the nature of things that the greatest merchant prince, with the openest hand, and the widest circle of connexions along the trade routes, was the real head of the community, and could do what he pleased with boule and demos except when a Roman commander interfered. Odasnathus appears to have been the head of a party which secretly meditated revolt, but the outbreak was prevented by a Roman officer Rufinus, who procured his assassination. He left two sons; the elder named Hairan appears in an inscription of 251 A.D. as "head-man " (____ [He.], exarchos [Gk.]) of the Palmyrenes, but it was the younger brother Odaenathus who sought revenge for his father's death and inherited his ambition. In him the old Bedouin blood reasserted itself; an Esau among the Jacobs of Tadmor, he spent his youth in the mountains and deserts, where the hardships of the chase prepared him for the fatigues of war, and where no doubt he acquired the absolute influence over the nomad tribes which was one of the chief secrets of his future success. In 258, the year of Valerian's ill-fated march against Sapor, Odaenathus is called liypatikos or consular, the highest honorary title of the empire, in an inscription erected to him by the gold and silver smiths of Palmyra. The title no doubt had just been conferred by the emperor on his way eastward, and the munificent patron of the guild of workers in precious metals had, we may judge, liberally scattered their wares among the wives and daughters of the Bedouin sheikhs. He meant to have a strength and party of his own, whatever the issue of the war. If we may trust the circumstantial account of Petrus Patricius, the captivity of Valerian and the victorious advance of Sapor induced Odaenathus to send gifts and letters to Sapor, and it was only when these were rejected that he threw himself heart and soul into the Roman cause. Sapor was offended that Odaenathus did not appear before him in person ; the Palmyrene chief in fact did not mean to be the mere subject either of Persian or Roman, though he was ready to follow whichever power would leave him practically sovereign at the price of occasional acts of homage. Rome in her day of disaster could not afford to be so proud as the Persian ; the weak Gallienus was the very suzerain whom Odaenathus desired ; and, joining his own considerable forces with the shattered fragments of the Roman armies, the Palmyrene commenced a successful war with Persia, in which he amply revenged himself on the arrogance of Sapor, and not only saved the Roman East but reduced Nisibis, twice laid siege to Ctesiphon itself, and furnished Gallienus with the captives and trophies for the empty pomp of a triumph. From the confused mass of undigested and contradictory anecdotes which form all the history we possess of this period it is impossible to extract a satisfactory picture of the career of Odaenathus ; but we can see that he steadily aimed at concentrating in his own person the whole sovereignty of Syria and the neighbouring lands, and as the organization of the empire had entirely broken down, and almost every Roman general who had a substantial force at his com-mand sooner or later advanced a e\aim to the purple, the Palmyrene prince, always acting in the name of Gallienus, gradually disembarrassed himself of every rival repre-sentative of Western authority throughout the greater part of Roman Asia. In the year 264 he was officially named supreme commander in the East, and, though to the Romans he was a subject of the empire, among his own people he was an independent sovereign, supreme over all the lands from Armenia to Arabia, and able to count on the assistance of both these nations. Odaenathus himself seems to have been engaged in almost constant . warfare in the east and north against the Persians and perhaps the Scythians, but in his absence the reins of government were firmly held by his wife Zenobia, the most famous heroine of antiquity, to whom indeed Aurelian, in a letter preserved by Trebellius Pollio, ascribes the chief merit of all her husband's success. Septimia Zenobia was by birth a Palmyrene; her native name was Bath Zabbai (De V, 29) ; and Pollio's descrip-tion of her dark beauty, black flashing eyes, and pearly teeth, together with her unusual physical endurance and the frank commanding manners which secured her author-ity in the camp and the desert, point emphatically to an Arabic rather than a Syrian descent. To the union of firmness and clemency, which is the most necessary quality of an Eastern sovereign, Zenobia added the rarer gifts of economy and organization, and an unusual range of intellectual culture. She spoke Coptic as well as Syriac, knew something of Latin, and had learned Greek from the famous Longinus, who remained at her court to the last, and paid the penalty of his life for his share in her counsels. She was also a diligent student of Eastern and Western history, and the statement that she enjoined her sons to speak Latin so that they had difficulty in using Greek implies a consistent and early adoption of the policy which made the success of Odaenathus, and, taken in con-nexion with Aurelian's testimony, in a letter preserved by Pollio, that she had the chief merit of her husband's exploits, seems to justify the conclusion that it was her educated political insight that created the fortunes of the short-lived dynasty. In the zenith of his fame Odaenathus was cut off by assassination along with his eldest son Herod, and it is generally assumed that the murder took place under Gallienus. The authority for this view is Pollio, who says that on receiving the news Gallienus sent an army against the Persians, which was destroyed to a man by Zenobia—a statement quite incredible, since we know from coins of her son Wahballath or Athenodorus, struck at Alexandria, that the suzerainship of Rome was acknowledged in the Palmyrene kingdom till the second year of Aurelian. That Odasnathus fell under Gallienus seems, however, at first sight to be confirmed by the coins, which give 266-7 as the first year of Wahballath. On the other hand the inscriptions on two statues of Odasnathus and Zenobia which stand side by side at Palmyra bear the date August 271, and, though De Vogiie, mistaking an essential word, supposed the former to be posthumous, the inscription really implies that Odasnathus was then alive. Now Pollio himself says that his wife and sons were associated in the kingship of Odasnathus, and therefore the years of Wahballath do not necessarily begin with his father's death. The fact seems to be that, while Odasnathus was busy at the other end of his kingdom, Zenobia administered the government at Palmyra and directed the conquest of Egypt, still nominally acting under the emperor at Rome, whose authority on the Nile was dis-puted by one or more pretenders. It still seems strange that Wahballath should strike money in his father's life-time—and he did so both at Antioch and Alexandria—_ when there are no genuine coins of Odasnathus; but it is equally strange and yet an undoubted fact that Zenobia, who not only enjoyed the real authority behind her beard-less son, but placed her name before his on public inscrip-tions, struck no coins till the second year of Aurelian, when the breach with Rome took place, and she suddenly appears as an empress (Sebaste [Gk.], Augusta) of five years' standing. Up to that date the royal pair probably did not venture to coin in open defiance to Rome, and yet were unwilling to circulate an acknowledgment of vassalship in all the bazaars of the East.

When, however, Aurelian had restored the unity of the West, and stood at the head of a powerful army flushed by victory in Gaul, Palmyra had to choose between real sub-jection and war with Rome. Some time in the year ending August 28, 271, Wahballath assumed the title of Augustus, and drops Aurelian from his coins, and just at the same time Zabdai, generalissimo of the forces, and Zabbai, commander of the army of Tadmor, erected the statues already mentioned, where Odasnathus is styled " king of kings and restorer of the state." This was an open challenge, and the assassination of Odasnathus, which took place at Emesa, a town in which the Roman party was strong, must have followed immediately afterwards, and on political grounds. Zenobia, supported by her two generals, kinsmen of her husband, was now face to face with a Roman invasion. She held Egypt, Syria, Mesopo-tamia, and Asia Minor as far as Ancyra; and Bithynia was ready to join her party had not the army of Aurelian appeared just in time from Byzantium. She could count too on the Armenians and the Arabs, but the loyalty of Syria was doubtful: the towns disliked a rule which was essentially " barbarian," and in Antioch at least the patroness of the Monarchian bishop Paul of Samosata could not be popular with the large Christian party by whom he was bitterly hated. There were many Romans in Zenobia's force, and it was they who bore the brunt of the two great battles at Antioch and Emesa, which followed Aurelian's rapid advance through Asia Minor. But Zenobia made light of these defeats,—" I have suffered no great loss " was her message to Aurelian, " for almost all who have fallen are Romans" (Fr. H. Gr., iv. 197). It was now plain that the war was one of races, and the fact that the fellahin of Palestine fought with enthusiasm on the side of Aurelian is the clearest proof that the empire of Palmyra was really an empire of Arabs over the peasants of the settled Semitic lands, whom the true Bedouin always despises, and who return his contempt with burning hatred. Thus the analogy already traced between the early history of Tadmor and Mecca is com-pleted by an equally striking parallel between the empire of the Septimians at Palmyra and that of the Omayyads at Damascus. In each case it was a family of Arabian mer-chant princes, strong in its influence over the sons of the desert, which rose to sovereignty and governed the old lands of the Semites from a city which had the desert behind it. But the empire of Palmyra came four centuries too soon. Rome was not yet exhausted, and Zenobia had neither the religious discipline of Islam to hold the Arabs together nor the spoil of the treasuries of Persia to keep their enthu-siasm always fresh. Aurelian's military skill was strained to the uttermost by the prudence and energy of Zenobia, but he succeeded in forming and maintaining the siege of Palmyra in spite of its bulwark of desert, and his gold corrupted the Arab and Armenian auxiliaries. Zenobia attempted to flee and throw herself on the Persians, but she was pursued and taken, and then the Palmyrenes lost heart and capitulated. Aurelian seized the wealth of the city, but spared the inhabitants, and to Zenobia he granted her life while he put her advisers to death. She figured in his splendid triumph, and by the most probable account accepted her fall with dignity, and closed her days at Tibur, where she lived with her sons the life of a Roman matron. The fall of Zenobia may be placed in the spring of 272. Soon after, probably within a year, Palmyra was again in revolt, but on the approach of Aurelian it yielded without a battle; the town was destroyed and the popula-tion put to the sword.

An obscure and distorted tradition of Zenobia as an Arab queen survived in the Arabian tradition of Zabbii, daughter of Amr b. Zarib, whose name is associated with Tadmor and with a town on the right bank of the Euphrates, which is no doubt the Zenobia of which Procopius speaks as founded by the famous queen. See C. de Perceval, ii. 28 sq.; 197 sq. ; Tabari, i. 757 sq. But the ruins of Palmyra, which excited the lively admiration of the Bedouins, were not associated by them with the great queen ; they are referred to by Nabigha as proofs of the might of Solomon and his sovereignty over their builders the Jinn. This legend must have come from the Jews, who either clung to the ruins or returned when Palmyra partially revived as a military station founded by Diocletian. Under the Christian empire Palmyra was a bishopric ; about 400 A.j). it was the sfcftion of the first Illyrian legion (Not. Dig.). Justinian furnished it with an aqueduct, and built the wall of which the ruins are still visible : it was deemed important, as we gather from Procopius, to have a strong post on the disputed marches of the Arabs of Hira and Ghassan. At the Moslem conquest of Syria Palmyra capitulated to Klialid without embracing Islam (Beladhori, p. 111 sq.; Yakut, i. 831). The town became a Moslem fortress and received a considerable Arab colony; for in the reign of Merwan II. it sent a thousand Kalbito 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. References to Palmyra in later times have been collected by Quatremère, Sultans Mamlouks, ii. 1, p. 255. Once all but annihilated by earthquake (434 A.H.), and passing through many political vicissitudes, Tadmor was still a wealthy place, with considerable trade, as late as the 14th century ; but in the general decline of the East, and the change of the great trade routes, it at length sunk to a poor group of hovels gathered in the courtyard of the great Temple of Sun. The ruins first became known to Europe in 1678 through W. Halifax, an Aleppo merchant. The architecture was carefully studied in 1751 by Wood and Dawkins, whose splendid folio (The Ruins of Palmyra, Lond., 1753) also gave copies of inscriptions. But, though the site was often visited and some stones with Semitic as well as Greek writing reached Europe, the great epigraphic wealth of Palmyra was first thoroughly opened to study by the collections of Waddington and De Vogüé, made in 1861-62. Subsequent dis-coveries have been of minor importance, with the notable exception of the great fiscal inscription spoken of above, discovered by Prince Abamelek Lazarew.

Sources.—To the writers already used by Tillemont and Gibbon, of whom Zosimus appears on the whole the best informed, must, be added the fragments of the anonymous continuator of Dio (Petrus Patricius?) first published by Mai. For the coins, Sallet's Fürsten von Palmyra (1866) must be read with his later essay. Num. Zeitsch., ii. 31 sq. (Vienna. 1S70). For the Greek inscriptions, see the Cor. Insc. Gr., but especially the work of Le Bas and Waddington, vol. iii. To the great collection of Aramaic inscriptions in De Vogüé, Syrie Centrale, must be added the gleanings of other travellers (Mordtmann, Sitzungsb. of the Munich Ac., 1875; Sachau, in Z. D. M. G., xxxv. 728 sq.), with some stones brought to Europe at an earlier date, and the monuments of natives of Palmyra in Africa and Britain (see Levy, Z. D. M. G., xii.. xv., xviii.; W. Wright, "The Palmyrene Inscr. of S. Shields," Tr. Soc. Bib. Arch., vi.). The great fiscal inscription was published by De Vogue, Jour. As., ser. 8, vols, i., ii.; comp. Sachau in Z. D. M. G., xxxvii. 562 sq., and R. Cagnat in Rev. de Philol., viii. 135 sq. The dialect has been thoroughly discussed by Nöldeke in Z. D. M. G., xxiv. 85 sq. Its nearest affinities are with Biblical Aramaic. (W. R. S.)


198-1 According to the Due de Luynes, the great temple is in 34° 32' 30" N. lat. and 35° 54' 35" E. long.

198-2 Pliny (viii. 89) gives the distances as 176 Roman miles from Damascus and 337 from Seleucia.

1991-1 The oldest Greek inscription (blingual) is of 10 A.D., for a statue erected jointly by the Palmyrenes and the Greeks of Seleucia, Journ. As., ser. i, i. 243.

199-2 The sacrifices "were partly maintained "by endowments given by rich citizens (De V., 3; W. 2588). The dates of the inscriptions show that much the commonest time for the erection of honorific statues—often in a connexion partly religious—was in spring (Adar, or more often Nisan), and this seems to point to a great spring festival, corresponding to the Arabic sanctity of Rajab. Palmyra had an important trade with the Bedouins in skins and grease (fiscal inscr., xvi. sq., xxx.); the herds of the desert are in condition for slaughter in spring, and this also points to a spring feast and fair. A trace of the hospitality so necessary to keep the Bedouins in humour may perhaps be found in De V., 16; W., 2585.

199-3 See Mordtmann, 18, and his notes ; the oasis lies 1300 feet above the sea, is constantly swept by cutting winds, and is liable to sudden and extreme variations of temperature.

199-4 See Uranius, apud Steph. Byz., now confirmed by the great fiscal inscription.

199-5 See Ulpian, Dig., 1. 15, 1, and Waddington, p. 956. Palmyrenes who became Roman citizens took Roman names in addition to their native ones, and these in almost every case are either Septimus or Julius Aurelius.

200-1 Odainathos [Gk.], not Odenathos [Gk.], is the form of the name on the inscriptions

201-1 See the anonymous continuator of Dio (Fr. Hist.. Gr., iv. 195). The elder Odaemathus is also alluded to in Pollio's life of Cyriades, from which one may infer that he plotted with a Persian party in Syria.

201-2 This date is given by Pollio (Gallienus, c. 10) and is confirmed by other notices. The order of events is very obscure, and Pollio is self-contradictory in several places. But the two events which he dates by consulates, and which therefore are probably most trustworthy, are the imperium of Odaenathus in 264 and the rejoicings in Rome over his Persian victories in 265 (reading consulatu for consulta in Gall. c. 12 with Klein in Rhein. Mus. 1880, p. 49 sq.). With this agrees Jerome's date of 265 for the campaign against Sapor ; and it is also possible to make out from the series of Palmyrene inscriptions referring to a certain Septimius Worod that in 263-264 the military organization of Palmyra ceased to be Roman. On the other hand up to 262-263 Syria was held by Macrianus and his son Quietus. Odaemathus took Emesa and destroyed Quietus probably in 263. Up to this time his sphere of action was limited by the desert, but the overthrow of Quietus left him the only real power between Rome and Persia. There is really no evidence that he was at war with Sapor before 265, and before 263 he was hardly in a position to send an embassy to him. It is most likely that his final decision in favour of Rome was not made till the fall of Emesa. Pollio is certainly wrong in saying that in 265 Odaenathus was named Augustus. He seems to have been misled by a medal in which the Augustus represented dragging Persians captive was really Gallienus, whom we know to have triumphed for Odaenathus's victories. But after his Persian successes Odaenathus strengthened his position, as we learn from coins, by having his son associated in his imperium. The first year of Wahballath is 266-267, when his father, as will be presently shown, was still alive. The title of "king " was perhaps not conferred on Wahballath till the reign of Aurelian (Sallet, Num. Zeit., 1870).

201-3 The original reading of De Vogüé and Waddington, Bath Zebina, is now known to be incorrect. Zabbai is a genuine Palmyrene name, borne also at this period by Septimius Zabbai, the general of the forces of the city.

201-4 We need not attach any weight to the fact that Zenobia, when she was mistress of Egypt, boasted of descent from Cleopatra and the Ptolemies. Athanasius, in speaking of the support she gave to Paul of Samosata, calls her a Jewess; this is certainly false, for her coins bear pagan symbols. Athanasius probably drew a hasty conclusion, not so much from her sympathy with the Monarchian Paul as from her patronage of the Jews in Alexandria, for which the evidence of an inscription from a synagogue still exists (see Mommsen in Zeitsch. f. Numismatik, v. 229 sq., 1873),

202-1 That Odamathus lived to begin the war with Aurelian seems to have been known to Vopiscus (Probus, c. 9).

202-2 That the Probatus of Pollio, Claudius, c. 11 (the Probus of Zosimus), must have been a pretender was first seen by Mommsen, apud Sallet, Fürsten von Palmyra, p. 44.

202-3 This is shown for Syria by an inscription near Byblus (C. I. G., 4503 b ; Waddington, p. 604), and for Egypt by the inscription from the Jewish synagogue already quoted, where indeed the names are not given but the order is Basilisses kai basileos [Gk.] — in the Latin Regina et rex jusserunt.

202-4 See, for the attitude of Emesa, Zosimus, i. 54, Frag. Hist. Graec., iv. 195. The assassin was a relative of Odaemathus named Maeonius, that is M'annai (Pollio, Trig. Tyr.; Zonaras, xii. 24).

202-5 Ibn Athir (127 A.H.); compare Frag. Hist. Ar., 139 (where it is said to have been held by the Beni 'Amir); Ibn Wadih, ii. 230; Mokaddasi, p. 156.

202-6 In this connexion Yakut 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 sculptures of Palmyra greatly interested the Arabs, and are commemorated in several poems quoted by Yakut and others.

203-1 For the site and the present aspect of the ruins, which less perfect than at Wood's visit, see especially papers by W. Wright (of Damascus) in Leisure Hour, 1876; Socin-Baedeker's Handbook; and the recent Reise of Sachau (Berlin, 1883), which gives a general photograph, and one of the most perfect ruin, the small Sun-Temple.

The above article was written by: William Robertson Smith, LL.D., Lord Almoner's Professor of Arabic, University of Cambridge..

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