Palmyra, a key cultural centre in Syria, is in the news because of its occupation by ISIS forces. Dr Lavinia Byrne, who has been to Syria four times within the last 10 years, will explore the historical, political and religious dimensions of the Palmyra story.
Dr Byrne will elaborate on the merchants of the Silk Road, the Greek, Persian and Roman conquerors, the 18th and 19th century women travellers such as the infamous Lady Jane Digby, Hester Stanhope and Gertrude Bell who left their mark on Palmyra, as well as its wanton destruction as a war zone. Why should fantastic temples for the worship of a wide spectrum of gods, an agora for the mer-chants, and ancient tombs be the target of such hostility? What motivates the desire of ISIS to destroy? Her photos will illustrate what is at stake.