Today it’s a mirage-like expanse of monumental ruins. But under the Roman Empire, Palmyra was a trading metropolis, according to historical and archaeological evidence.
Despite nearly a century of research, though, a key question remains unanswered: How did this city of 200,000 thrive in the middle of an infertile Syrian desert?
Once a required stop on caravan routes that brought Asian goods west to eager Romans, Palmyra has “always been conceived as an oasis in the middle of the desert, but it’s never been quite clear what it was living from,” said Michal Gawlikowski, the retired head of the University of Warsaw’s Polish Mission at Palmyra.
And what an oasis: Among the ruins are grand avenues lined with columns, triumphal arches, and the remains of an ancient market where traders once haggled over silk, silver, spices, and dyes from India and China. Read more.
The Italian government has launched a 105m euros (£87m) project to save one of the world’s greatest archaeological treasures, the ancient city of Pompeii.
There has been growing concern that the site, where volcanic ash smothered a Roman city in AD79, has been neglected.
A number of structures have fully or partially collapsed, including the “House of Gladiators” which fell down 18 months ago.
Italy and the EU have now put up the funds for a major restoration plan.
Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti said the project aimed to secure “all theinsuale (ancient residential areas) currently at risk in one of the most important places of cultural heritage in the world”. Read more.
Featuring numerous temples, an amphitheater, a large forum with associated buildings, gladiator schools, massive fortifications and several necropolises, casual observers might think that they were walking among ruins not far from the center of ancient Imperial Rome herself. But this site is located on a plain at the foot of the Retezat Mountains in Southern Transylvania, Romania. Here, archaeologists have been systematically uncovering an ancient Roman center that, during its heyday in the 2nd century A.D., commanded the countryside as the capital of the conquered Dacian provinces.
After the mighty Dacians were finally defeated in 106 A.D. by the forces of Trajan’s legions, a city was built upon the very location where a major battle between the Roman legions and the Dacian troops took place. Read more.
Last month, part of a major wall came tumbling down in Pompeii, the ancient Roman city frozen in time by a first-century eruption of Mount Vesuvius. It was only the latest in a spate of collapses at the site, which experts say is in critical condition.
Though the site is said to be safe for tourists, the disintegration is alarming enough to have spurred the European Union to pledge 105 million euros (145 million dollars) for preservation.
World Heritage site, near modern Naples in southern Italy, began in earnest last year. In November 2010 Pompeii’s Schola Armaturarum, a large building once used by gladiators for training, crumbled overnight due to water infiltration. Just a few weeks later, a 12-meter-long (13-yard) wall protecting a structure known as the House of the Moralist had fallen down in heavy rain.
Now that poor weather has returned, more trouble has followed. Read more.
MILAN — Officials at Pompeii’s archaeological site say part of a wall has collapsed due to heavy rains in recent days.
Spokeswoman Daniela Leone said Saturday an external layer of a roughly two-meter (six-foot) section of wall collapsed at the northern end of the ancient ruins. Leone said it was of no artistic value and stressed that the wall itself remained standing. The area was closed to the public.
There were two collapses at the 2,000-year-old archaeological site last year, emphasizing concerns about the state of Italy’s cultural treasures.
Some 3 million people a year visit the ancient ruins of Pompeii, a teeming Roman city destroyed in A.D. 79 by a volcanic eruption. (source)