Return to Palmyra

An interview with heroic Khaled al-Asaad's son about his father's legacy, and the importance of the ruins and museum collection at Palmyra that al-Assad died protecting

Monumental Arch, Louis Vignes, 1864.

During the Hellenistic and Roman periods, Palmyra (Tadmor, in Arabic), which is in central Syria, was an important caravan city, reaching its zenith in the second and third centuries C.E. On the border between the Roman and Parthian empires, Palmyra stood at a crossroads of cultures and religions. The artifacts and surviving buildings testify to this cultural and religious diversity.

In the 17th century, Western travelers began visiting and recording the ancient ruins of Palmyra. Notably, French artist and architect Louis-François Cassas made detailed etchings of the oasis city in 1785, and French naval lieutenant Louis Vignes took photographs of Palmyra in 1864. The virtual exhibit Return to Palmyra, coordinated by the Getty Research Institute, features many of these prints, in addition to information on the site’s history and archaeology.

In 2015, terrorists with ISIS wreaked havoc at Palmyra. Not only did they severely damage the ancient ruins, but they also executed Khaled al-Asaad, the courageous Director Emeritus of Antiquities and Museums at Palmyra, when he intervened to stop the destruction. The Getty interviewed his son and Director Emeritus of Antiquities and Museums at Palmyra, Waleed Khaled al-Asaad, about his childhood, his father’s legacy, and the future of Palmyra. See this interview and so much more at

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Traveling the Silk Road by Sudip Bose

In the 1870s, the German geographer Ferdinand von Richthofen coined the name die Seidenstrasse—the Silk Road—to refer to the 5,000-mile-long trade route that connected China and the Mediterranean in ancient times. There was not just one route connecting East and West, but several; and silk—craved especially by Roman women—was just one of the treasured commodities transported along these routes.

From Ebla to Damascus: The Archaeology of Ancient Syria by Marie-Henriette Gates

Eight thousand years in the history of ancient Syria are on display in a magnificent exhibit that is touring six American cities.a Collected under the title “From Ebla to Damascus,” its objects vividly illustrate a sweep of civilizations ranging from the simple settlements of the Neolithic seventh millennium B.C. to the great Mesopotamian cultures eventually conquered by the Assyrians, the Babylonians and Alexander the Great, to the rise of Christianity and the impact of Islam

Assessing Ebla by Paul C. Maloney

No archaeological find since the Dead Sea Scrolls has so excited the public imagination as the recently-discovered and already famous Ebla tablets.

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