Stone Altar Depicting Two Priests Joining Hands [...]
By the first century BC a Palmyrene identity began to develop. the concept of citizenship (demos) appears in an inscription, dated to AD 10, describing the Palmyrenes as a community. In AD 74, an inscription mentions the city’s boule (senate). The tribal role in Palmyra is debated; during the first century, four treasurers representing the four tribes seems to have partially controlled the administration but their role became ceremonial by the second century and power rested in the hands of the council. The Palmyrene council consisted of about six hundred members of the local elite (such as the elders or heads of wealthy families or clans),[note 28] representing the city’s four-quarters. The council, headed by a president,managed civic responsibilities; it supervised public works (including the construction of public buildings), approved expenditures, collected taxes, and appointed two archons (lords) each year. Palmyra’s military was led by strategoi (generals) appointed by the council. Palmyrene writing Until the late third century AD, Palmyrenes spoke a dialect of Aramaic and used the Palmyrene alphabet.[note 3] The use of Latin was minimal, but Greek was used for commercial and diplomatic purposes, and later it became the dominant language during the Byzantine era. Palmyra’s society was a mixture of the different peoples inhabiting the city, which is seen in Aramaic, Arabic and Amorite clan names At its height during the reign of Zenobia, Palmyra had more than 200,000 residents. Its earliest known inhabitants were the Amorites in the early second millennium BC, and by the end of the second millenium, Arameans were mentioned as inhabiting the area. Arabs arrived in the city in the late first millennium BC. The soldiers of the sheikh Zabdibel, who aided the Seleucids in the battle of Raphia (217 BC), were described as Arabs. The city also had a Jewish community; inscriptions in Palmyrene from the necropolis of Beit She’arim in Lower Galilee confirm the burial of Palmyrene Jews. Occasionally and rarely, members of the Palmyrene families took Greek names while ethnic Greeks were few; the majority of people with Greek names, who did not belong to one of the city’s families, were freed slaves. By the time of Nero Palmyra had four tribes, each residing in an area of the city bearing its name. Three of the tribes were the Komare, Mattabol and Ma’zin; the fourth tribe is uncertain, but was probably the Mita. In time, the four tribes became highly civic and tribal lines blurred;[note 6] by the second-century clan identity lost its importance, and it disappeared during the third century.[note 7] Even the four tribes ceased to be important by the third century as only one inscription mentions a tribe after the year 212; instead, aristocrats played the decisive role in the city’s social organization.