Palmyra | people, language and society

People, language and society

Bust of a deceased woman, Aqmat
Palmyrene funerary portrait

At its height during the reign of Zenobia, Palmyra had more than 200,000 residents.[42] Its earliest known inhabitants were the Amorites in the early second millennium BC,[43] and by the end of the millennium Arameans were mentioned as inhabiting the area.[44][45] Arabs arrived in the city in the late first millennium BC.[46] Sheikh Zabdibel, who aided the Seleucids in the battle of Raphia (217 BC), was mentioned as the commander of "the arabs and neighbouring tribes to the number of ten thousands";[47] Zabdibel and his men were not actually identified as Palmyrenes in the texts, but the name "Zabdibel" is a Palmyrene name leading to the conclusion that the sheikh hailed from Palmyra.[48] The Arab newcomers were assimilated by the earlier inhabitants, used Palmyrene as a mother tongue,[49] and formed a significant segment of the aristocracy.[50] The city also had a Jewish community; inscriptions in Palmyrene from the necropolis of Beit She'arim in Lower Galilee confirm the burial of Palmyrene Jews.[51] Occasionally and rarely, members of the Palmyrene families took Greek names while ethnic Greeks were few; the majority of people with Greek names, who did not belong to one of the city's families, were freed slaves.[52] The Palmyrenes seem to have disliked the Greeks, considered them foreigners, and restricted their settlement in the city.[52]

Alphabetic inscription on stone
Alphabetic inscription in Palmyrene alphabet

Until the late third century AD, Palmyrenes spoke a dialect of Aramaic and used the Palmyrene alphabet.[note 3][54][55] The use of Latin was minimal, but Greek was used by wealthier members of society for commercial and diplomatic purposes,[56] and it became the dominant language during the Byzantine era.[57] After the Arab conquest, Greek was replaced by Arabic,[57] from which a Palmyrene dialect evolved.[58]

Palmyra's society was a mixture of the different peoples inhabiting the city,[59][60] which is seen in Aramaic, Arabic and Amorite clan names.[note 4][31][61] Palmyra was a tribal community but due to the lack of sources, an understanding of the nature of Palmyrene tribal structure is not possible.[62] Thirty clans have been documented;[63] five of which were identified as tribes (Phyle (φυλή)) comprising several sub-clans.[note 5][64] By the time of Nero Palmyra had four tribes, each residing in an area of the city bearing its name.[65] Three of the tribes were the Komare, Mattabol and Ma'zin; the fourth tribe is uncertain, but was probably the Mita.[65][66] In time, the four tribes became highly civic and tribal lines blurred;[note 6][65] by the second century clan identity lost its importance, and it disappeared during the third century.[note 7][65] Even the four tribes ceased to be important by the third century as only one inscription mentions a tribe after the year 212; instead, aristocrats played the decisive role in the city's social organization.[68] During the Umayyad period Palmyra was mainly inhabited by the Kalb tribe.[69] Benjamin of Tudela recorded the existence of 2,000 Jews in the city during the twelfth century.[70] Palmyra declined after its destruction by Timur in 1400,[71] and was a village of 6,000 inhabitants at the beginning of the 20th century; although surrounded by Bedouin, the villagers preserved their dialect.[58] Palmyra maintained the life of a small settlement until its relocation in 1932.[72]

Other Languages
Afrikaans: Palmyra
العربية: تدمر
asturianu: Palmira
azərbaycanca: Palmira
বাংলা: পালমিরা
Bân-lâm-gú: Palmyra
беларуская: Пальміра
български: Палмира
català: Palmira
Чӑвашла: Пальмира
čeština: Palmýra
Cymraeg: Palmyra
dansk: Palmyra
Deutsch: Palmyra
Ελληνικά: Παλμύρα
español: Palmira
Esperanto: Palmira
euskara: Palmira
فارسی: پالمیرا
français: Palmyre
Gaeilge: Palmyra
galego: Palmira
한국어: 팔미라
հայերեն: Պալմիրա
हिन्दी: पलमीरा
hrvatski: Palmira
Bahasa Indonesia: Tadmur
íslenska: Palmýra
italiano: Palmira
עברית: תדמור
ქართული: პალმირა
қазақша: Пальмира
Latina: Palmyra
latviešu: Palmīra
Lëtzebuergesch: Palmyra
lietuvių: Palmyra (Sirija)
magyar: Palmüra
მარგალური: პალმირა (სირია)
مازِرونی: پالمیرا
Nederlands: Palmyra (Syrië)
नेपाली: पलमेरा
日本語: パルミラ
нохчийн: Пальмира
norsk: Palmyra
norsk nynorsk: Palmyra
oʻzbekcha/ўзбекча: Palmira
ਪੰਜਾਬੀ: ਪਾਲਮੀਰਾ
پښتو: پالمیرا
português: Palmira
română: Palmira
русский: Пальмира
Scots: Palmira
shqip: Palmira
sicilianu: Palmira
Simple English: Palmyra
slovenčina: Palmýra
slovenščina: Palmira
کوردی: تەدمور
српски / srpski: Палмира
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Palmira
suomi: Palmyra
svenska: Palmyra
தமிழ்: பல்மைரா
татарча/tatarça: Palmira
Türkçe: Palmira
українська: Пальміра
اردو: تدمر
Tiếng Việt: Palmyra
中文: 巴尔米拉