Located in the northwestern periphery of the ancient city of Palmyra (تدمر), at the end of the main colonnaded street, is a remarkable funerary temple (المعبد الجنائزي). Surprisingly little is known about this temple tomb, as no inscriptions have been discovered, but it is believed to date from the late second or early third century. This particular style of tomb represents the later stages of Palmyrene funerary architecture, following the earlier underground and tower tombs. Being the only tomb found within the city walls, the shrine may have been connected to the royal family. It is often referred to as tomb number 86, based on archaeologist Michal Gawlikowski’s catalogue.
The building features a well-preserved portico supported by six columns with Corinthian capitals. The portico preceded a large room with steps leading to burial chambers located underneath. The southwest and northwest walls of the funerary temple (المعبد الجنائزي) were reconstructed during modern restorations, while the portico has survived throughout the centuries. Around the portico are elaborate stone carved decorations including grapevines and floral patterns. The stunning location with the mountaintop Qalaat Shirkuh (قلعة شيركوه) as a backdrop makes this monument particularly picturesque.
Preservation Status: The archaeological remains of Palmyra (تدمر), including the funerary temple (المعبد الجنائزي), are under enormous risk. Since May 2015, the town and environs have been under control of the Islamic State (الدولة الإسلامية) militant group, committed iconoclasts who have purposely targeted archaeological heritage in both Syria and Iraq for destruction. There have been numerous reports of explosives being planted throughout the site, which may include this temple tomb.
Getting There: Palmyra (تدمر) is located at a major crossroads in the Syrian desert between three major cities. It is located east of Homs (حمص), northeast of Damascus (دمشق) and southwest of Deir al-Zur (دير الزور). Most buses traveling between Homs (حمص) or Damascus (دمشق) and Deir al-Zur (دير الزور) will stop in Palmyra (تدمر). The funerary temple (المعبد الجنائزي) is located in the northwestern quarter of the acropolis.
Coordinates: 34°33’20.00″N / 38°15’47.00″E
Transliteration Variants: Tadmur, Tadmour
Rating: (6 / 10)