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Drafting an Empire: Palmyrene Manpower and Military Identity

KNIGHT, LILA,ELIZABETH (2024) Drafting an Empire: Palmyrene Manpower and Military Identity. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.

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Author-imposed embargo until 24 April 2027.


This thesis is an examination of the army of Palmyra in the first three centuries CE. Despite being the means through which Palmyra briefly took control over the Roman Near East in the mid-third century CE, the Palmyrene army has been almost entirely overlooked by modern scholarship due to the absence of explicit evidence. This thesis aims to examine the hidden traces of Palmyrene military figures in the epigraphic and iconographic record of Palmyra to better understand this under-studied part of life in Palmyra and the relationship the city had with Rome and the Roman army. Such an examination constitutes the first comprehensive discussion of the Palmyrene army of the first three centuries CE.

First, questions are raised concerning the relationship between Palmyra and the nomads to understand how the city protected its food supply network in the hinterland and its major source of wealth – the long-distance caravans. This approach constructs a framework for how the Palmyrene army may have operated and explores the importance of the relationship between Palmyra and the Roman army. Attention is then paid to the evidence for the Palmyrene military figures in Dura-Europos, the Middle Euphrates, and throughout the Empire to further understand the influence of the Palmyrene army in the broader region and the function of the city’s relationship with the Roman army.

Finally, the evidence for the Palmyrene and Roman soldiers stationed in Palmyra is examined. Though some aspects have been previously discussed individually in scholarship, through piecing together all the evidence for Palmyrene military figures for the first time, this study concludes that while there was a Palmyrene army, the city nevertheless relied upon the meaningful military relationship they shared with Rome. This interaction between the Palmyrene and Roman armies was vital to protecting Palmyra and the Palmyrene hinterland.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Keywords:Palmyra; Palmyrene; Palmyrene Army; Zenobia; Odaenathus
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Classics and Ancient History, Department of
Thesis Date:2024
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:24 Apr 2024 12:43

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