Palmyra’s most important deities
Palmyra, an ancient Semitic city in present-day Syria, was a significant cultural and trade hub, especially during the first three centuries AD. The city’s religious practices blended elements from Mesopotamian, Greco-Roman, and local Semitic traditions.
READ MORE: Most Famous Ancient Mesopotamian Deities
Among Palmyra’s pantheon, the following deities were of paramount importance:
Known as the “Lord of Palmyra,” Bel was another chief god and was identified with the Mesopotamian god Enlil and the Greek god Zeus. He was the god of the universe and had a grand temple dedicated to him in Palmyra, known as the Temple of Bel, which stood as an architectural marvel until its unfortunate destruction in 2015.
A goddess with Canaanite origins, Astarte was associated with love, beauty, and fertility. In Palmyra, she was sometimes equated with the Greek goddess Aphrodite.
This god was associated with the sun and was often depicted with a radiate crown, symbolizing the sun’s rays. He was considered a significant solar deity in the Palmyrene pantheon and was often linked with Sol, the Roman sun god. Also, Yarhibol was often associated with other deities like Bel and Aglibol, forming a triad of principal gods worshipped together in Palmyra.
Aglibol was a lunar deity and was often paired with Yarhibol. He was represented holding a crescent moon. Like Yarhibol, Aglibol was often venerated in conjunction with other deities, particularly as part of the Palmyrene divine triad with Bel and Yarhibo
A pre-Islamic Arabian goddess, Allat was associated with the Greek goddess Athena in Palmyra. She was considered a goddess of fertility, warfare, and protector of the people.
Baalshamin (Ba’al Shamem)
He was one of the chief gods of Palmyra and was considered the “Lord of the Heavens.” Baalshamin had Semitic origins and was associated with the sky, fertility, and storms. His role somewhat overlapped with the Canaanite god Ba’al Hadad and the Greek god Zeus.
Baalshamin had a dedicated temple in Palmyra, which was, unfortunately, destroyed in the most callous of manners by the Islamic State during the Syrian Civil War in 2015.
Often depicted with a fish tail, Atargatis was a Syrian goddess worshiped in Palmyra. She was associated with water, fertility, and protection.
A sun and horse god, Malakbel was particularly associated with the protection of caravans, reflecting Palmyra’s status as a key trading city on the Silk Road.