The modern town of Palmyra (تدمر), northeast of the ancient city, was first settled in the late 1920s and early 1930s. Prior to that, around 6,000 villagers lived among the ancient ruins. French administrators encouraged the local inhabitants to resettle to the modern town, and most had done so by 1932. The modern town’s museum (متحف) was founded in 1961, and contains a collection of artifacts discovered in the region along with educational exhibits.
Particularly noteworthy is the museum’s collection of statuary and other funerary art. The more prominent Palmyrene families devoted considerable resources to honoring their dead, as evidenced by the ancient city’s enormous necropolis (مدافن). Many funerary sculptures and sarcophagi are located at the museum (متحف). The statuary provides detailed depictions of Palmyrene dress, with men wearing heavily embroidered clothing complemented by patterned worked leather, and women in simple robes with veils complimented by heavy jewelry and headbands. The collection also features mosaics recovered from a private house east of the Temple of Bel (معبد بل). Additionally, there are model reconstructions of the ancient city at its height. If planning to visit the ancient city’s underground tombs, access should be coordinated with officials here.
Preservation Status: The archaeological remains of Palmyra (تدمر), including the museum (متحف), 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. While authorities relocated much of the museum’s collection to secure locations, the largest pieces, including sarcophagi, were unable to be moved. Islamic State (الدولة الإسلامية) is known to have destroyed the massive lion statue at the museum (متحف) entrance, originally discovered at the Temple of Allat (معبد اللات). It is widely assumed that additional pieces left have been destroyed as well.
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 museum (متحف) is located in the far southwest of the modern town.
Coordinates: 34°33’19.00″N / 38°16’29.00″E
Transliteration Variants: Tadmur, Tadmour
Rating: (6 / 10)