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Shooting Star of Palmyra

Nathanael Andrade

Publication Date - July 2021

ISBN: 9780197610817

304 pages
6 1/8 x 9 1/4 inches

In Stock


Hailing from the Syrian city of Palmyra, a woman named Zenobia (also Bathzabbai) governed territory in the eastern Roman empire from 268 to 272. She thus became the most famous Palmyrene who ever lived. But sources for her life and career are scarce. This book situates Zenobia in the social, economic, cultural, and material context of her Palmyra. By doing so, it aims to shed greater light on the experiences of Zenobia and Palmyrene women like her at various stages of their lives. Not limiting itself to the political aspects of her governance, it contemplates what inscriptions and material culture at Palmyra enable us to know about women and the practice of gender there, and thus the world that Zenobia navigated. It reflects on her clothes, house, hygiene, property owning, gestures, religious practices, funerary practices, education, languages, social identities, marriage, and experiences motherhood, along with her meteoric rise to prominence and civil war. It also ponders Zenobia's legacy in light of the contemporary human tragedy in Syria.


  • Implements a new approach to understanding Zenobia's life experiences
  • Situates Zenobia within the social context of Palmyra and the gender practices of the city
  • Considers Zenobia's legacy in relation to the Syrian civil war

About the Author(s)

Nathanael Andrade is Associate Professor in History at Binghamton University. He received his PhD in Greek and Roman history from the University of Michigan and has published extensively on the Roman and later Roman Near East along with other topics. He is the author of Syrian Identity in the Greco-Roman World (Cambridge University Press, 2013) and The Journey of Christianity to India in Late Antiquity: Networks and the Movement of Culture (Cambridge University Press, at press). He is now an associate professor in the Department of History at Binghamton University.


"Of far greater consequence, especially for the educated public, are the appendices and bibliography: the destruction of monuments, the nature of Palmyrene Aramaic, original language version of inscriptions detailing Zenobia's household (Aramaic in transliteration). These and the bibliography illustrate the multinational and lengthy careers [of] those building upon intelligent assumptions in the recreation of an ancient site." -- Michael Weiskopf, Berkeley, CA, Ancient West & East

"Andrade has done a worthwhile job of collecting physical and literary evidence that will interest scholars of ancient history." -- J.A.S. Evans, CHOICE

"interesting and informative - in particular for an undergraduate course on gender history" -- James Corke-Webster, Kings College London, Greece & Rome

"Admirable and well-articulated ... Andrade's book, intended both for the specialist and the educated reader in general, analyses each of these events with objectivity and rigour, and presents a highly fitting approximation to the attractive figure of this singular woman. We should congratulate ourselves on its publication and congratulate the author on his work." -- Gustavo A. Vivas Garcia, Bryn Mawr Classical Review

Table of Contents

    Chapter 1: Zenobia's Likenesses

    Chapter 2: Urban Landscape

    Chapter 3: Social Landscape

    Chapter 4: Social World

    Chapter 5: Coming of Age

    Chapter 6: Marital Household

    Chapter 7: Widowhood

    Chapter 8: Dynasty

    Chapter 9: Civil War

    Chapter 10: Legacy and Likenesses

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