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Ancient oasis city of Palmyra

Palmyra is located 215 km (134 mi) to the northeast of the Syrian capital Damascus, in an oasis,surrounded by palms of which twenty varieties were reported. A small Wadinamed al-Qubur, crosses the area, it flows from the hills in the west and passes the city, before disappearing in the eastern gardens of the oasis. To the south of the Wadi, a spring named Efqa is located. Pliny the Elder described the town in the 70s AD,[note 1] as famous for its location, the richness of its soil, and the water springs that surrounded it, making the agricultural and herding activities possible.

"Tadmor" is the Semitic and earliest attested native name of the city, it appeared in the first half of the second millennium BC. The etymology of "Tadmor" is vague, Albert Schultens considered it to be derived from the Semitic word for dates ("Tamar"), in reference to the Palm trees that surround the city. The name "Palmyra" appeared during the early first century AD, in the works of Pliny the Elder, and was used throughout the Greco-Roman world. The general view holds that "Palmyra" is derived from "Tadmor" either as an alteration, which was supported by Schultens,[note  or as a translation using the Greek word for palm ("Palame"), which is supported by Jean Starcky.

Michael Patrick O'Connor argued for a Hurrian origin of both "Palmyra" and "Tadmor", citing the incapability of explaining the alterations to the theorized roots of both names, which are represented in the adding of a -d- to "Tamar" and a -ra- to "palame". According to this theory, "Tadmor" is derived from the Hurrian word "Tad", meaning "to love", + a typical Hurrian mid vowel rising (mVr) formant "Mar". "Palmyra" is derived from the word "Pal", meaning "to know", + the same mVr formant "Mar".

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