Palmyrena: City, Hinterland and Caravan Trade between Orient and Occident is a four year (2009-2012) joint Syrian-Norwegian research project on the relationship between the ancient city of Palmyra and its hinterland. The project is funded by the Norwegian Research Council. Palmyra is situated at the oasis of Tadmor in the Syrian semi-desert, between the fertile valleys of the Orontes and the Euphrates. Through most of its pre-modern history, the village of Tadmor had a population ranging into the hundreds or thousands. In the first centuries CE the settlement grew into a city with an estimated population of 150.000 - 200.000, establishing it as one of the largest and most important cities of the Roman Empire in the mid-third century. A city the size of Palmyra depended on large quantities of water, food, fuel and building materials. In the ancient period most of these resources had to be secured within the distance of a few days travel. In the case of Palmyra, these surroundings were constituted by the precarious environment of arid steppes and mountains, inhabited by nomadic pastoralists both before and during the peak of Palmyrene urbanity. An important aim of our project is to understand how the oasis-city utilized its territory for agriculture, pastoralism, water harvesting, transport and defense. This is the subject of a joint Syrian-Norwegian archaeological survey between Palmyra and Isriyeh. The first season was conducted in 2008, and the survey will also cover pre-historic and Islamic periods...
2011 surveyPreliminary report (136 kb PDF)
Historical period (28 mb PDF)
2009 survey1. Introduction (24 kb PDF)
2. Historical period (5,3 mb PDF)
3. Prehistoric period (3,1 mb PDF)
2008 surveyPreliminary report (8,2 mb PDF)
Articles, theses, books
2012Seland, Eivind Heldaas: "Death or taxes : Choosing itineraries between the Persian Gulf and the Mediterranean in the mid-18th century". Academic Quarter 4, Spring 2012: 97-108 (external link).
Seland, Eivind Heldaas: "Trade and Christianity in the Indian Ocean During Late Antiquity". Journal of Late Antiquity 5 (1): 72-86 (external link).
2011Anfinset, Nils: "The formation of economic systems and social institutions during the fifth and fourth millennium BC", in Interweaving worlds. Systemic Interactions in Eurasia, 7th to 1st Millennium BC, eds. T.C. Wilkinson, S. Sherratt & J. Bennet, 2011. London, Oxbow Books: 145-157. (external link)
Finsås, Martine Solenes: Romersk Palmyra? Kvalitativ og kvantitativ analyse av romersk innflytelse påpalmyrenernes private identitet. Thesis for the MA-degree, Department of Archaeology, History, Cultural Studies and Religion, University of Bergen. (external link)
Ruset, Hildegunn Maria Haanes: Pastoral Nomads on the Syrian steppe in the early Bronze Age: a study of burial monuments in the hinterland of Palmyra. Thesis for the MA-degree, Department of Archaeology, History, Cultural Studies and Religion, University of Bergen. (external link)
Seland, Eivind Heldaas: "Kameler og kamelkaravaner i romersk kunst". Klassisk Forum 2-2011: 45-53. (external link)
Seland, Eivind Heldaas: "The Persian Gulf or the Red Sea? Two axes in ancient Indian Ocean trade, where to go and why".World Archaeology 43 (3): 398-409. (external link)
2010Anfinset, Nils: Metal, Nomads and Culture Contact, Equniox. London. (external link)
Seland, Eivind Heldaas: "Palmyra – Karavanehandel og geopolitikk i romersk Syria". Klassisk Forum 2-2010: 54-69. (external link)
Anfinset, Nils and Jørgen Christian Meyer: "The Hinterland of Palmyra". Antiquity 84 (324), June 2010. (external link)
Anfinset, Nils, Jørgen Christian Meyer and Eivind Heldaas Seland: "Palmyrena: City, Hinterland and Caravan Trade between Orient and Occident". Posters for the museum in Palmyra. (1,9 mb low-res PDF)