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Syria: Tombs of Palmyra

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Tombs of Palmyra | Syria | Asia

[Visited: June 2001]

It was custom in Palmyra to bury the dead in family towers. Some of the towers are still standing, many did not survive earthquakes and erosive influences of time. The Valley of the Tombs is situated just behind the ancient city of Palmyra. Some of the towers are high, others low. Some of them contained hundreds of deceased. Although all in the same valley, not one tower is the same. Rich families had more decorated towers, poor families had simpler ones.

Picture of Tombs of Palmyra (Syria): Valley of Tombs; Palmyra

Some of the towers can be entered. It is especially inside that the difference between rich and poor families can be seen. One tower for a rich family contains marble statues of some of the deceased. Inside, corpses were placed in boxes, one on top of the other, and closed at the front. Now the spaces are empty, although in one occasion there are still bones in one former coffin space.

Picture of Tombs of Palmyra (Syria): Inside rich family tomb tower; Palmyra

In some cases it is possible to climb the tower and reach the top. On the way, you see more coffin spaces on the first level. It is hard to imagine how Palmyrenes were able to carry their dead ones to these upper levels. When you reach the top of the tower, you are rewarded with a great view of the valley. I especially admired the blending of the towers in the barren landscape.

Picture of Tombs of Palmyra (Syria): Valley of Tombs; Palmyra
Picture of Tombs of Palmyra (Syria): Detail of tomb at Palmyra
Picture of Tombs of Palmyra (Syria): Inside tomb tower of poor family; Palmyra
Picture of Tombs of Palmyra (Syria): Coffin space in tomb tower in Palmyra
Picture of Tombs of Palmyra (Syria): Valley of Tombs; Palmyra
Picture of Tombs of Palmyra (Syria): Valley of Tombs; Palmyra
Picture of Tombs of Palmyra (Syria): Valley of Tombs; Palmyra
Picture of Tombs of Palmyra (Syria): Ceiling of rich family tomb tower; Palmyra
Picture of Tombs of Palmyra (Syria): Detail of tomb at Palmyra

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