The Getty Research Institute's first online exhibition, The Legacy of Ancient Palmyra, features the Institute's rare print and photograph collections documenting an important archaeological site that has recently undergone devastating changes amid an ongoing war in Syria. The project was conceived as a means to complement the Institute's exceptional holdings with an innovative design that creates a compelling digital experience. The online presentation of this exhibition aims to reach a global audience.
In this 21st century, war in Syria has irrevocably changed the ancient caravan city of Palmyra, famed as a meeting place of civilizations since its apogee in the mid-2nd to 3rd century CE. The Romans and Parthians knew Palmyra as a wealthy oasis metropolis, a center of culture and trade on the edge of their empires. Stretching some three kilometers across the Tadmurean desert, the ruins of Palmyra, like all ruins, stand as bearers of meaning marking their place in history. For centuries, traveling artists and explorers have documented the site in former states of preservation. Created as a tribute to Palmyra, this online exhibition captures the site as it was photographed for the first time by Louis Vignes in 1864 and illustrated in the 18th century by the architect Louis-François Cassas. Their works contribute to Palmyra's legacy, one that goes far beyond the stones of its once great buildings.