Late Antique and Early Islamic Palmyra/Tadmur: an archaeological and historical reassessment
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Intagliata, Emanuele Ettore
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In approaching the scientific literature on the UNESCO world heritage site of Palmyra for the first time, any scholar would be immediately struck by the number of studies devoted to the Roman phase of the settlement – roughly 1st-third quarter of the 3rd century. By contrast, contributions on late antique and early Islamic Palmyra have never been numerous, reflecting both the preference granted by current scholarship to the study of Roman remains and the paucity of archaeological and written evidence at our disposal to cast light on this period. Admittedly, works on post-273 Palmyra have grown significantly in number in the last couple of decades. Yet, almost the totality of them has often been confined to the examination of items of circumstantial evidence. We still lack an organic publication that attempts a systematic overview of these works and tries to contextualise the history of the city in a broader geographic and chronological framework. Numerous questions, such as the fate of the city in the 5th century, remain to be answered; other evidence, such as the bulk of early Arabic written sources, still has to be fully explored. This dissertation presents an examination of those evidence that are useful to better understand the historical development of the settlement from the fall of Zenobia and the second Palmyrene revolt (272-273) to the collapse of the Umayyad caliphate (750). The civilian and military character of the city is investigated through the analysis of specific themes for which enough evidence is available to work with. Besides written sources and published archaeological evidence, archival material is used to cast more light on a selected number of specific items of evidence. The final output of this study is to present a comprehensive history of the post-Roman settlement to be taken as a starting point for future discussion on the topic.