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[[File: Agora_Palmyra.jpg|300px|thumbnail|left|The Ruins of the Agora(Marketplace) of Palmyra]]
Palmyra became one of the most important cities in the ancient world because its culture promoted trade. In particular, the Palmyrenes benefited from caravans that took exotic items from the east to the west and vice versa. The oldest inscription in Palmyra that refers to trade caravans has been dated to AD 10/11, <ref>Gawlikowski, M. “Palmyra as a Trading Center.” <i>Iraq</i> 56 (1994) p. 28</ref> but they more than likely began sometime before that date. As the trade caravans became more numerous and plied with greater and more expensive types of merchandise, the Romans decided to lend their services as the flow of free traded benefited them as well. Along with the efforts made by the Emperor Tiberius discussed earlier, the Emperor Trajan (reigned AD 98-117) had a paved road built that connected Palmyra to the Euphrates River. <ref> Smith, p. 22</ref> Another road was built that ran from Palmyra to city of Petra and river and sea routes were established that brought Palmyrene merchants down the Euphrates River to the Persian Gulf and east to Asia. <ref> Browning, pgs. 13, 26</ref>
Since trade was what made Palmyra so powerful and important, its organization in the ancient merits a closer look. Although the Palmyrenes engaged in free enterprise, it would be a mistake to confuse their economy with modern forms of capitalism. There were no stock markets or corporations as there are today and the government took a very active role in the organization and maintenance of the trade caravans. Although Tiberius dedicated Roman resources toward protecting the caravans and Trajan used imperial funds to build roads to and from Palmyra, the Roman Empire was often unstable in the first two centuries of the common era; because of that, the government of Palmyra found itself organizing paramilitary groups to protect the caravans. <ref> Gawlikowski, p. 32</ref> The situation only seemed to strengthen the Palmyrenes, who developed a merchant culture that was quite unique in the ancient world.