In around the 2nd century CE, Palmyra was established in the middle of a desert, in what is now modern Syria. At this point in its history, the city was a subject of the Roman Empire. It began life as a caravan city, with its inhabitants renowned as wealthy merchants who traded along the Silk Road. Its main entrance is located to the south of the city, with goods arriving from the ports along the Persian coast. Standing at the crossroads of east and west, the city united Graeco-Roman techniques with Persian architecture. The city’s prosperity is reflected in the construction of its many temples, churches, theatres, public buildings and tombs, all connected by colonnaded streets. One of its most iconic structures is the Sanctuary of Bel, which was consecrated to the Mesopotamian god Bel. The city’s population was a mixture of Amorites, Arameans and Arabs, reflected in the number of different temple deities of diverse origins.
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