History Essay Sample on Palmyra

What is the significance of the city of Palmyra in history?

history-essay-sampleWhen thinking of cities of great historical significance, we often think of the majors, such as Rome, Berlin, and Cairo. However, there are cities that are not as widely known that have the same kind of historical richness and depth as the aforementioned cities. One such city exists in the central Syrian Desert, Palmyra.
Palmyra was a crossroads for traders from the first through third century. Palmyra was annexed by Rome during the first century AD, although the circumstances as to why or how are unclear. It stood on the route between Persia, India, China, and the Roman Empire. Palmyra was filled with cultural influences from all the surrounding areas, causing Palmyra to become a thriving city.
The splendor of Palmyra is most notable in its architecture. Archeologists note that “A grand, colonnaded street of 1100 metres’ length forms the monumental axis of the city…Architectural ornament including unique examples of funerary sculpture unites the forms of Greco-roman art with indigenous elements and Persian influences in a strongly original style” (“Site of Palmyra- UNESCO World Heritage Centre”).

history-essay-samplePalmyra came to center stage as the Roman Empire began to disintegrate in the third century. Instead of falling to the Sassanids, Palmyrene king Septimius Odenathus developed a defense to fight and defeat the Sassanids, leading to Odenathus being given the title of Commander of the East by Gallienus, son of Roman Emperor Valerian. When Odenathus was assassinated, his wife Zenobia took control on behalf of her sons. Zenobia developed alliances that continued to save the Eastern Empire. However, Zenobia became overzealous and began to operate in order to form an independent Palmyrene, which the Roman Empire could not afford to allow. After two rebellions, Roman Emperor Aurelian ordered Palmyra to be razed, leaving only temples and public buildings as the Silk Road was redirected, destroying the city’s economy (Duncan).
The buildings that were spared are of some of the most intricate examples of architecture of the civilizations. Moreover, the architecture was a major influence on early United States architecture. This is not the only reason why Palmyra is so historically significant. It is reaching new heights of significance now as it stands at risk in the midst of the Syrian Civil War. To date, Islamic State militants have destroyed two of the ancient temples of Palmyra through explosions. With the continuation of violence and uncertainty as to what will happen next, all of the ruins that are left that once made up Palmyra are at risk for destruction.

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