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(pălmī`rə), ancient city of central Syria. A small modern village known as Tudmor or Tadmor (the Syrian Arabic name of Palmyra) is nearby; residents were relocated from the ancient site in the early 1930s. An oasis N of the Syrian Desert, 130 mi (209 km) NE of Damascus, Palmyra was important in Syrian-Babylonian trade by the 1st cent. B.C. Palmyra became of true importance only after Roman control was established (c.A.D. 30). Local tribes vied for control, which fell to the Septimii by the 3d cent. A.D. Septimius OdenathusOdenathus, Septimius
, d. 267, king of Palmyra. His family (the Septimii) had dominated Palmyra for many years, and Odenathus by his policy of cooperation with Rome raised his state to its zenith.
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 built Palmyra into a strong autonomous state that practically embraced the Eastern Empire, including Syria, NW Mesopotamia, and W Armenia. After his death his widow, ZenobiaZenobia
, d. after 272, queen of Palmyra. She was of Arab stock and was the wife of Septimius Odenathus. He was murdered, probably through her contrivance, and she obtained rule of his lands in the name of her son.
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, briefly expanded the territory, but her ambition brought on (A.D. 272) an attack by AurelianAurelian
(Lucius Domitius Aurelianus) , c.212–275, Roman emperor (270–75). Rising in the ranks, he became consul under Valerian. He succeeded Claudius II, whose victory over the Goths had begun the territorial rehabilitation of the empire.
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, who was victorious and partly destroyed (273) the city. In decline, Palmyra was taken by the Arabs and sacked by TimurTimur
or Tamerlane
, c.1336–1405, Mongol conqueror, b. Kesh, near Samarkand. He is also called Timur Leng [Timur the lame]. He was the son of a tribal leader, and he claimed (apparently for the first time in 1370) to be a descendant of Jenghiz Khan.
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. It fell into ruins. The ruins were forgotten until the 17th cent., but those of the great temple dedicated to Baal, or Bel, and other remains show the ancient splendor of Palmyra at its prime. The temple of Baalshamin, one of the better preserved remains; part of the temple of Baal; and other ruins were destroyed during the Syrian civil war by the Islamic StateIslamic State
(IS), Sunni Islamic militant group committed to the establishment of an Islamic caliphate that would unite Muslims in a transnational, strict-fundamentalist Islamic state.
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 when they held (2015–16, 2016–17) the area.


atoll (2 sq mi/5.2 sq km), central Pacific, one of the Line IslandsLine Islands
or Equatorial Islands,
coral group, 43 sq mi (111 sq km), central and S Pacific. Once valuable for their guano deposits, the islands now have coconut groves, airfields, and meteorological stations.
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, c.1,100 mi (1,770 km) SW of Honolulu. Palmyra has no permanent inhabitants. First visited by Americans in 1802, and later claimed by the Hawaiian kingdom (1862) and Great Britain (1889), it was annexed by the United States in 1898. Palmyra was under the jurisdiction of Honolulu until Hawaii was granted statehood in 1959. The atoll is now administered by the U.S. Dept. of the Interior. Since 2009 it has been part of the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National MonumentPacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument,
c.490,000 sq mi (1,260,000 sq km), central Pacific Ocean; est. 2009. The monument comprises the waters and reefs surrounding seven islands and atolls, and in most cases the island lands are managed as wildlife refuges as well.
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The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia™ Copyright © 2013, Columbia University Press. Licensed from Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



an ancient city in northeastern Syria (near present-day Tadmor), an important center of crafts and the caravan trade. Palmyra is first mentioned in Cappadocian tablets and Mari documents dating from the first half of the second millennium B.C. Destroyed by the Assyrians at the end of the second millennium B.C., it was rebuilt in the tenth century B.C. by the Israeli king Solomon.

Palmyra was at its apogee during the first to third centuries A.D., when its merchants maintained trade relations with the cities of southern Mesopotamia, Scythia, Middle Asia, and southern Arabia. As part of the Roman province of Syria, formed in 64 B.C., Palmyra enjoyed autonomy. It gained virtual independence around A.D. 260 under the ruler Odenanthus. Odenanthus’ wife and successor, Queen Zenobia (ruled 266/267–272), instigated an anti-Roman uprising and took possession of western Asia and Egypt; but in 272, her troops were routed by the Roman emperor Aurelian. In 273, after the suppression of an anti-Roman rebellion, Palmyra was destroyed by the Romans and lost its earlier importance.

The architectural ensembles of Palmyra were distinguished by their monumental scale, splendor of form, and abundant sculptural embellishment. Systematic excavations were begun in 1900. They uncovered part of the ruins of the ancient classical city, which had regularly planned streets lined with impressive Corinthian colonnades. Architectural monuments include a triple-spanned monumental arch at the head of the great colonnade of the principal street (second to third century); the Temple of Bel, or Baal, centrally situated on a high platform (first century); an agora and theater (third century); a small rectangular temple to Bel-shamin (second century); part of the city wall (second half of the third century, restored in the mid-sixth century); and the complex called Diocletian’s Camp (late third to early fourth century), northwest of the city, with the Temple of Banners. Outside the city walls is a necropolis with three types of tombs: tower tombs, subterranean tombs, and mausoleums in the form of houses with atria. Numerous statues, reliefs, mosaics, and paintings have been found and are now in the National Museum of Damascus and other collections. There is a museum exhibiting archaeological finds and folk art in Tadmor.


Shifman, I. Sh. “Imushchestvennye i zemel’nye otnosheniia v Pal’mire v I—III vv. n. e. po epigraficheskim dannym.” In Palestinskii sbornik. Moscow-Leningrad, 1965, issue 3.
Michalowski, K. Pal’mira (album). Warsaw, 1968.




(Borassus flabellifer), a plant of the family Palmae. The plant reaches a height of 18–20 m (sometimes 30 m). The leaves are flabellate. Palmyras, which are native to tropical Asia, have been cultivated since ancient times in southern India and Sri Lanka. The juice of the inflorescences is used to make sugar, toddy, alcohol, and vinegar. The fruit is edible. The leaves are used in the manufacture of paper and roofing; the split leaves are used for weaving mats, pads, baskets, and similar articles. Fibers from the leaves are made into brushes, ropes, and fabrics. The wood of the trunk is a durable building material, which is resistant to the effects of seawater.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


1. an ancient city in central Syria: said to have been built by Solomon
2. an island in the central Pacific, in the Line Islands: under US administration
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
References in periodicals archive ?
Speaking to SANA reporter, tourist Robin from Britain expressed deep sorrow over the sabotage that targeted the most prominent historic features of Palmyra, pointing out to the safety and security which the tourists have touched in everywhere they visited ,and this contributes highly to the return of tourism to this city.
Reports from Palmyra said on Wednesday that the Syrian army troops continued to hit ISIL's defense lines in Eastern Homs, forcing the terrorist group to retreat from vast regions Northeast of the ancient city.
While the musicians played their music, explosions could still be heard nearby in the north and east of Palmyra, as the Syrian army was re-capturing the city from ISIS forces.
Palmyra, which has been variously termed as the "bride of the desert", "jewel of the desert" and "Venice of the sands", is an ancient city northeast of Damascus.
It was critical for the army to control these hills and mountains." Once the SAA established control over strategic points in the mountains, troops were able to edge along the desert road, the last 9 kilometers, toward Palmyra. Securing the medieval citadel, another strategic point that overlooks the whole of Palmyra, was the penultimate win on March 25 and heralded the final days of the offensive.
The loss of Palmyra on Sunday amounts to one of the biggest setbacks for the jihadist group since it declared a caliphate in 2014 across large parts of Syria and Iraq.
State TV quoted an unnamed military official as saying that "the armed forces and groups of popular defence committees have fully taken control of Palmyra".
Syrian television quoted a military source saying the army and its militia allies took "complete control over the city of Palmyra".
The Syrian official added that sources in Palmyra had confirmed that the Arch of Triumph, a jewel in the exquisite collection of ruins in the oasis city, had been blown up.
Sources in Palmyra have confirmed the destruction of the historic ruins, including the Tower Tomb of Elahbel, which was one of the best preserved.
Just days before, ISIS militants had killed 82-year old Khaled Assad, a Syrian expert on Palmyra, because he had refused to disclose the location of hidden historic artifacts.