Ancient Palmyrenes, the first to issue a document for tax system in the world

The history of Palmyra is closely linked to the development of the silk road in this region and to the city’s strategic position between the major powers of the early middle ages.

As such, the city was well-served to become an important center of trading for those merchants who chose to cross this desert rather than take the longer route around it.

 People of ancient city of Palmyra benefited from the location of their city on the Silk Road for international trade and for contact with neighboring civilizations.

They were able to reach advanced civilizational levels due to the strategic position of Palmyra, which made it mainly dependent on trade, transport and exchange of goods.

 Merchants were the real masters of the city, including its princes, rulers, senators and those in charge of public functions and leadership.

It was  honorable in the city of Palmyra  for the men who served and protected trade convoys as statues were erected to commemorate them at the streets and public squares.

In this context, Secretary of Palmyra Museum, Dr. Khalil al-Hariri, told SANA that the commercial convoy was the main resource to support the old economy of Palmyra 2,000 years ago.

He pointed out that in Palmyra, There were heads of commercial convoys roaming east or west, especially that Palmyra was a great corner to accommodate and attract commercial convoys of all kinds.

Al-Hariri underscored that  the cohesion of the people of the city and the establishment of centers and services for the success of the convoy were the main reasons that led to creating a big income and to strengthening the Palmyrene economy, which, in turn, led to the development and prosperity of the city.

He made it clear that the archaeological architectural facilities in the historical city of Palmyra came as a result of the city’s revenues from trade as required stores and warehouses were prepared to receive goods that come to the city.

He indicated that Palmyra has dedicated the most ancient Free Trade Zone in the world because a legal financial cuneiform written in the Greek, Aramaic and Palmyrene languages was found near the site of Agora “an ancient site for the gathering of convoys.” The script is considered the oldest document for tax system in the world.

He added that the cuneiform which includes the tax system is five meters long and two meters wide and it weighs about 15 tons and it is considered the longest and most ancient legal text written on stone and related to the world economy.

The Palmyrene tax system talks in details about the commercial materials and their values and taxes whether they are local, imported or exported, and it had been set by Palmyra’s senate in the year 137 AD based on a proposal and request by Zenobia’s ancestors whom, according to al-Hariri, laid the foundations of the Syrian nationalism.

Rawaa Ghanam