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TADMOR IN THE DESERT,
MR. R. WOOD.
IN the year 1751, Mr. Wood, accompanied by M. Bouverie
and Mr. Dawkens, travelled to the site of the famous Palmyra, which is situated fifty leagues south east of Aleppo, and twenty leagues west of the Euphrates. The result of this gentleman's observations was published in 1753, in the form of an atlas.
Palmyra, or Tadmor, is a noble city of ancient Syria, now in ruins, the origin of whose name is uncertain. Neither is it well known by whom this city was built ; for though, from the identity of the names, it is thought by many to have been the Tadmor in the wilderness built by Solomon, this point, however, is much controverted by many learned men. For the world have been long and justly astonished to find in the desert of Syria, at a distance from the sea, with a very precarious and scanty supply of water only, and without a particular connexion with any great monarchy, ruins of a city more extensive and splendid than Rome itself, the depositary of all the arts which Greece in its most flourishing periods could afford.
This problem will, however, be easily solved when we consider, that this city was the emporium of an extensive com
merce, for which it was excellently adapted from its central situation between Lower Asia, and the Persian gulf.
There is, however, no authentic history of Palmyra till after the captivity of the Roman emperor Valerian by the Persians. It is first mentioned by the Roman historians, as a place which Mark Antony attempted to plunder, upon pretence that it had not observed a just neutrality between the Romans and Parthians. . Pliny takes notice of it as being situated in a rich soil, among pleasant streams, and totally separated from the rest of the world by a vast sandy desert, which had preserved its independence between Parthia and Rome. There is still a considerable spot of good soil next the town and on the bills; and even in the wilderness, there were palms and fig trees, some of which remained till the latter end of the seventeenth century, though not one is now to be found.
After the captivity of Valerian, it was become an opulent city, to which its situation in the vicinity of the Roman and Parthian empires greatly contributed; as the caravans, in going to or returning from the east, frequented the place, and thus rendered it a considerable seat of merchandise. It enjoyed an independency till the time of Trajan ; who, having made himself master of almost all the Parthian empire, reduced Palmyra likewise, and it was afterwards accounted part of the Roman dominions.
Odenathus, prince of Palmyra, rendered it independent; but he was murdered by his nephew, who was soon after put to death by Zenobia, the wife of Odenathus. This lady is said to have been possessed of very extraordinary endowments both of body and mind, being, according to Mr. Gibbon, almost the only Asiatic woman who is recorded to have overcome the obstacles arising from the confined situation of the fair sex in that part of the world. Immediately on taking vengeance for the murder of her husband, she assumed the government, and soon strengthened herself so much, that she resolved to submit nei. ther to the Roman nor Persian power. The neighbouring states of Arabia, Armenia, and Persia, dreaded her enmity, and solicited her alliance. To the dominions of Odenathus, which extended from the Euphrates to the frontiers of Bithy