Saturday, May 19, 2007
What to do with Pesky Roman Pillars When They Fall Down
I want to share some photos of stone carved patterns in Palmyra- it is one of those places ,it drags you in- you touch the pillars and hear the whispers of the ancients.As you rub the stone worn smooth by centuries of sandstorms and the hands of ancients you wonder who exactly touched these? It is hard to imagine why the Romans built such a large complex - after all it is in rugged terrain 100's of kilometers from anywhere. It is, and was an oasis , but an oasis can only support so many people, it was on the silk route- but if you look at a map it does not appear to be in a direct line from one place to another or maybe some of the other places have disappeared under the sands of time? Much of Palmyra was submerged under sand until the early 1950's. It appears to have been settled for centuries before the Romans, and whilst the Romans did conquer they never did quite manage to completely subdue the local population who were of an individualistic bent.
Indeed the city's heroine is Zenobia ( though there were rumours that she was implicated in her husbands death. Her husband was one of the Roman governors) She was a headstrong and powerful woman. It is thought that the bend in the central avenue of Roman columns was probably due to the individualsitic bent of the Palmyrans under Zenobia's rule, though no one is sure.
"Palmyra's greatest days however were after the murder of Odeinat, when his wife Zenobia started ruling Palmyra on behalf of her son Vaballath. Zenobia with the help of her Prime Minister Longinus extended Palmyrean power to the west and took over Bosra and occupied as far as Egypt (269-270), then she headed for the north and attempted to take Antioch. This sudden expansion posed a threat for the Romans, and after two years in 272 of being flexible Aurelian retaliated and took back Antioch then Emesa (Homs) and then Palmyra itself. Zenobia tried to escape but was captured and was taken back to Rome as a prisoner."
Today many Palmyrans proudly insist that they are Arameans.
After the Romans left , others came including some that thought that chopping the huge stone pillars into sections would make an excellent wall- admittedly it does create a rather lovely effect ( see thephoto in the next post), but when you thinking of soaring stone colums it is a rather sad end.
Thank you for all your good wishes- Collin's mother is slowly improving, there is still a long way to go.