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Palmyra's senate was an example; although Palmyrene texts written in Greek described it as a "boule" (a Greek institution), the senate was a gathering of non-elected tribal elders (a Near-Eastern assembly tradition).Palmyra provided the most convenient Eastern examples bolstering an art-history controversy at the turn of the 20th century: to what extent Eastern influence on Roman art replaced idealized classicism with frontal, hieratic and simplified figures (as believed by Josef Strzygowski and others).In July 2017, the discoverer of Ebla, Paolo Matthiae, speaking in the "Faces of Palmyra" ("I Volti de Palmyra") exhibition in Aquileia, said that: "The archaeological site of Palmyra is a vast field of ruins and only 20-30% of it is seriously damaged.Unfortunately these included important parts, such as the Temple of Bel, while the Arc of Triumph can be rebuilt." He added: "In any case, by using both traditional methods and advanced technologies, it might be possible to restore 98% of the site".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.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.The city's social structure was tribal, and its inhabitants spoke Palmyrene (a dialect of Aramaic); Greek was used for commercial and diplomatic purposes.
Archaeological finds date back to the Neolithic period, and the city was first documented in the early second millennium BC.
The city's inhabitants worshiped local Semitic deities, Mesopotamian and Arab gods.
By the third century AD, Palmyra was a prosperous regional center reaching the apex of its power in the 260s, when Palmyrene King Odaenathus defeated Persian Emperor Shapur I.
Palmyra changed hands on a number of occasions between different empires before becoming a subject of the Roman Empire in the first century AD.
The city grew wealthy from trade caravans; the Palmyrenes were renowned merchants who established colonies along the Silk Road and operated throughout the Roman Empire.