King Solomon's city of Palmyra
Palmyra (Παλμυρα) is the Greek name for the city, a translation of its original Aramaic name, Tadmor, which means "palm tree." Today, Tadmor (in Arabic تدمر) is the name of a small city of about 36,000 next to the ruins, which is heavily dependent on tourism.
The city is mentioned in tablets dating from as early as the 19th century BC, when it was a trading city in the extensive trade network that linked Mesopotamia and northern Syria.
Palmyra appears in the Bible (II Chronicles 8.4) as a desert city fortified by Solomon. (There is a mention of a city of Tamar in I Kings 9.18, also fortified by Solomon, which may refer to Tadmor but could also be a place near the Dead Sea.) Tadmor is also mentioned by Josephus (Antiquities, Book VIII) along with the Greek name of Palmyra, as a city built by Solomon.
Tadmor began to attain prominence in the 3rd century BC, when a road through it became one of the main routes of east-west trade. It was built on an oasis lying approximately halfway between the Mediterranean Sea in the west and the Euphrates River east, and thus helped connect the western world with the Orient. When the Seleucids took Syria in 323 BC, Palmyra remained autonomous and continued to flourish as an important caravan stop.
In 41 BC, Mark Antony tried to occupy Palmyra but failed. The Palmyrans had advance warning and had escaped to the other side of the Euphrates by the time he arrived, which indicates that Palmyra was still a nomadic settlement whose valuables could be removed at short notice.
Palmyra was made part of the Roman province of Syria during the reign of Tiberius (14–37). It steadily grew in importance as a trade route linking Persia, India, China, and the Roman empire. In 129, Hadrian visited the city and was so impressed that he proclaimed it a free city and renamed it Palmyra Hadriana. In 217, Emperor Caracalla made Palmyra a colonia, which meant exemption from paying taxes to the empire. The 2nd and 3rd centuries were the golden age of Palmyra, when it flourished through its extensive trading and favored status under the Romans.