Archaeologists Solve Mystery of Palmyra A Norwegian-Syrian team of archaeologists has solved one of the great puzzles of the Roman Empire: why was the vibrant city of Palmyra located in the middle of the Syrian Desert?
An avenue in ancient Palmyra, Syria (Zeledi) In Roman times, Palmyra was the most important point along the trade route linking the east and west, reaching a population of 100,000 inhabitants. But its history has always been shrouded in mystery: what was a city that size doing in the middle of the desert? How could so many people live in such an inhospitable place nearly 2,000 years ago? Norwegian researchers collaborated with colleagues from Syria for four years to find answers. “These findings provide a wealth of new insight into Palmyra’s history,” said Jørgen Christian Meyer, a professor at the University of Bergen and manager of the project funded by the Research Council of Norway. The Norwegian archaeologists approached the problem from a novel angle – instead of examining the city itself, they studied an enormous expanse of land just to the north. Along with their Syrian colleagues from the Palmyra Museum and aided by satellite photos, they catalogued a large number of ancient remains visible on the Earth’s surface. “In this way, we were able to form a more complete picture of what occurred within the larger area,” Prof Meyer said.