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Introduction

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Chapter Summary

The relatively abundant sources from Palmyra, located at an oasis in the middle of the Syrian steppe, halfway between Damascus and the Euphrates river, make it a prime test case for the study of local religious life in the Classical Levant. Due in no small part to the relative dearth in Classical literary sources which deal with the Levant, scholarship of the Hellenistic and Roman Near East has traditionally been the playground of archaeologists. The study of the Near East in Germany stands forever in the footsteps of giants such as Walter Andrae (1875-1956), Otto Puchstein (1856-1911) and the ubiquitous Theodor Wiegand (1864-1936). Despite the obvious similarities between the religious cultures of certain Near Eastern places and areas, their ruins, documents and other sources are also the result of a diversity which is not always understood or even recognized.

Keywords: Classical Levant; Damascus; Euphrates river; Roman Near East

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