In ancient times, Palmira was the most important point along the trade route that united the east and the west, reaching a population of about 100,000 inhabitants. However, there has always been a mystery regarding its location, since it was very strange to find a city of such magnitude in the desert in those times. A team of Norwegian and Syrian researchers has found answers to this enigma and has ended the debate on its geographical location.
The project, led by University of Bergen professor Jørgen Christian Meyer, has used an innovative method to solve the mystery of Palmyra. Instead of examining the city itself, they surveyed a huge expanse of land just to the north. Together with his Syrian colleagues from the Palmyra Museum and with the help of satellite photos, were able to catalog a large number of ancient remains. The team located a series of forgotten towns belonging to the Roman period. But what finally solved the enigma of Palmyra was the discovery of water reservoirs that these peoples used.
Professor Meyer and his colleagues realized that what they were actually studying it was not a desert, but rather an arid steppe with underground bases that prevented the rain from penetrating the ground. Rainwater collected in the form of streams and rivers flashing called "wadiBy the Arabs.
According to historians, the residents of ancient Palmyra and nearby towns collected rainwater using dams and cisterns, which allowed it to be distributed and there was food in the city. Bedouin tribes also cooperated with the cityAs they led their flocks of goats and sheep to the land of farmers in the area to graze during the hot season. In this way, they fertilized the fields for the next season.
The location of the ancient Palmyra it was also due to political motives. It was an important settlement in which routes that went from east to west joined, including trade routes along the Euphrates river. But nevertheless, the city was not under Roman or Persian control, but in charge of local lords and chiefs who demanded high tolls from those who used the commercial routes.
Professor Meyer comments that the merchants of Palmyra took advantage of the unique situation of the city and built a global trade network That would explain the high prosperity of the city. The extortion tactics employed resulted in a great opportunity for the locals, who joined forces with the Bedouins to provide security, beasts of burden and guides through the desert.
The researcher also refers to current problems with irrigation in deserts: “Every once in a while, a huge amount of rain falls in the desert. Anyone can see how green the desert turns after the rain. The Palmyrians must have realized the potential of this type of terrain that covers large areas of our planet.”.
Passionate about History, he has a degree in Journalism and Audiovisual Communication. Since he was little he loved History and ended up exploring the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries above all.