Palmyra | culture

Culture

The scarce artifacts found in the city dating to the Bronze Age reveal that, culturally, Palmyra was most affiliated with western Syria.[73] Classical Palmyra had a distinctive culture,[74] based on a local Semitic tradition,[75] and influenced by Greece and Rome.[note 8][77] To appear better integrated into the Roman Empire, some Palmyrenes adopted Greco-Roman names, either alone or in addition to a second native name.[78] The extent of Greek influence on Palmyra's culture is debated.[79] Scholars interpreted the Palmyrenes' Greek practices differently; many see those characters as a superficial layer over a local essence.[80] Palmyra's senate was an example; although Palmyrene texts written in Greek described it as a "boule" (a Greek institution), the senate was a gathering of non-elected tribal elders (a Near-Eastern assembly tradition).[81] Others view Palmyra's culture as a fusion of local and Greco-Roman traditions.[82]

Palmyrene loculi (burial chambers) reassembled in İstanbul Archaeological Museum
Palmyrene mummy

The culture of Persia influenced Palmyrene military tactics, dress and court ceremonies.[83] Palmyra had no large libraries or publishing facilities, and it lacked an intellectual movement characteristic of other Eastern cities such as Edessa or Antioch.[84] Although Zenobia opened her court to academics, the only notable scholar documented was Cassius Longinus.[84]

Palmyra had a large agora.[note 9] However, unlike the Greek Agoras (public gathering places shared with public buildings), Palmyra's agora resembled an Eastern caravanserai more than a hub of public life.[86][87] The Palmyrenes buried their dead in elaborate family mausoleums,[88] most with interior walls forming rows of burial chambers (loculi) in which the dead, laying at full length, were placed.[89][90] A relief of the person interred formed part of the wall's decoration, acting as a headstone.[90] Sarcophagi appeared in the late second century and were used in some of the tombs.[91] Many burial monuments contained mummies embalmed in a method similar to that used in Ancient Egypt.[92][93]

Art and architecture

Interior of the Tower of Elahbel, in 2010

Although Palmyrene art was related to that of Greece, it had a distinctive style unique to the middle-Euphrates region.[94] Palmyrene art is well represented by the bust reliefs which seal the openings of its burial chambers.[94] The reliefs emphasized clothing, jewelry and a frontal representation of the person depicted,[94][95] characteristics which can be seen as a forerunner of Byzantine art.[94] According to Michael Rostovtzeff, Palmyra's art was influenced by Parthian art.[96] However, the origin of frontality that characterized Palmyrene and Parthian arts is a controversial issue; while Parthian origin has been suggested (by Daniel Schlumberger),[97] Michael Avi-Yonah contends that it was a local Syrian tradition that influenced Parthian art.[98] Little painting, and none of the bronze statues of prominent citizens (which stood on brackets on the main columns of the Great Colonnade), have survived.[99] A damaged frieze and other sculptures from the Temple of Bel, many removed to museums in Syria and abroad, suggest the city's public monumental sculpture.[99]

Many surviving funerary busts reached Western museums during the 19th century.[100] Palmyra provided the most convenient Eastern examples bolstering an art-history controversy at the turn of the 20th century: to what extent Eastern influence on Roman art replaced idealized classicism with frontal, hieratic and simplified figures (as believed by Josef Strzygowski and others).[99][101] This transition is seen as a response to cultural changes in the Western Roman Empire, rather than artistic influence from the East.[99] Palmyrene bust reliefs, unlike Roman sculptures, are rudimentary portraits; although many reflect high quality individuality, the majority vary little across figures of similar age and gender.[99]

Like its art, Palmyra's architecture was influenced by the Greco-Roman style, while preserving local elements (best seen in the Temple of Bel).[note 10][102][105] Enclosed by a massive wall flanked with traditional Roman columns,[105][106] Bel's sanctuary plan was primarily Semitic.[105] Similar to the Second Temple, the sanctuary consisted of a large courtyard with the deity's main shrine off-center against its entrance (a plan preserving elements of the temples of Ebla and Ugarit).[105][107]

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