Sunlight in Palmyra: a happy memory in terrible times

Mary Russell

The museum director is helpful, his eyes kindly behind his spectacles, his voice soft as he offers me cinnamon-flavoured coffee and fresh Palmyrene dates. Sunlight filters through the yellow-paned window glass and palm fronds sway in the morning breeze. How could I possibly have found Tadmor unsettling?
The director tells me there were once seven sources of water here with the Agfa the most important. Now, the springs are all dry. Too many wells were drilled though the government does plan to pipe water to here. Eventually. Piping water to an oasis? It seems the ultimate obscenity of the 21st century though I don’t think the director shares my view.
The scheme will cost money and this is where problems may arise for the waters of the Agfa belong to the farmers. In the old days, there were 21 families and they had access to the water for 10 hours…

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