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Bible Encyclopedias

Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblical Literature


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Tad´mor or Tamar, a town built by King Solomon (; ). The name Tamar signifies a palm-tree, and hence the Greek and Roman designation of Palmyra, 'city of palms;' but this name never superseded the other among the natives, who even to this day give it the name of Thadmor. Palm trees are still found in the gardens around the town, but not in such numbers as would warrant, as they once did, the imposition of the name. Tadmor was situated between the Euphrates and Hamath, to the south-east of that city, in a fertile tract or oasis of the desert. It was built by Solomon, probably with the view of securing an interest in and command over the great caravan traffic from the east, similar to that which he had established in respect of the trade between Syria and Egypt.

Tadmor was for a long period under the sway of the Romans. But in the third century it attained independence under Odenatus and his celebrated consort Zenobia. It returned again, however, under the dominion of the Romans, and after various vicissitudes of fortune, it ultimately fell into the hands of the successors of Mohammed. From about the middle of the eighth century it seems gradually to have fallen into decay, but its magnificent ruins were scarcely known in Europe till towards the close of the seventeenth century.

The ruins cover a sandy plain stretching along the bases of a range of mountains called Jebel Belaes, running nearly north and south, dividing the great desert from the desert plains extending westward towards Damascus, and the north of Syria. The general aspect which these relics of ancient art and magnificence present, is well described by Volney:—'In the space covered by these ruins we sometimes find a palace, of which nothing remains but the court and walls; sometimes a temple whose peristyle is half thrown down; and now a portico, a gallery, or triumphal arch. Here stand groups of columns, whose symmetry is destroyed by the fall of many of them; there, we see them ranged in rows of such length that, similar to rows of trees, they deceive the sight and assume the appearance of continued walls. If from this striking scene we cast our eyes upon the ground, another, almost as varied, presents itself; on all sides we behold nothing but subverted shafts, some whole, others shattered to pieces, or dislocated in their joints; and on which side soever we look, the earth is strewed with vast stones, half buried; with broken entablatures, mutilated friezes, disfigured reliefs, effaced sculptures, violated tombs, and altars defiled by dust.'

The present Tadmor consists of numbers of peasants' mud huts, clustered together around the great Temple of the Sun. This temple is the most remarkable and magnificent ruin of Palmyra. The court by which it was enclosed was 179 feet square, within which a double row of columns was continued all round. They were 390 in number, of which about sixty still remain standing. In the middle of the court stood the temple, an oblong quadrangular building, surrounded with columns, of which about twenty still exist, though without capitals, of which they have been plundered, probably because they were composed of metal. In the interior, at the south end, is now the humble mosque of the village.





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Bibliography Information
Kitto, John, ed. Entry for 'Tadmor'. "Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblical Literature".

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