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The Oasis of Palmyra by Paul Veyne

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Here is an excellent article about ancient Palmyra by Paul Veyne. 

This article first came to my attention in Lapham's Quarterly (Winter 2017: Home). This is an outstanding publication that each quarter collects works by mostly famous articles on a single theme.




Without a doubt, our visitor would have seen a great deal to shake his sense of normalcy. In the Roman Empire, or rather the Greco-Roman Empire, everything was uniform: the architecture, houses, written language, clothing, values, authors, and religion, from Scotland to the Rhine, the Danube, the Euphrates, and the Sahara, at least among the elite. Palmyra was a city that felt, by contrast, dangerously close to Persian civilization, the great enemy of Rome, and to even more remote places.


The Palmyrenes were able to build a commercial empire from what might have been merely transport services. They bought and then resold what they were transporting; traders were part of the caravans. What is more, some of them armed the ships on the Red Sea, thereby competing with their Egyptian rivals. Palmyra was not just a caravan city; it was a merchant republic.


One can only grieve the destruction of the ancient Palmyrene antiquities and other historic treasures.



guy also known as gaius 

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