Caravan city

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Some of the ruins of Palmyra.
Trade routes of the Western Sahara Desert c. 1000-1500. (Goldfields are indicated by light brown shading).

A caravan city is a city located on and deriving its prosperity from its location on a major trans-desert trade route.[1] The term is believed to have been coined by the great scholar of antiquity, Michael Rostovtzeff, for his work O Blijnem Vostoke, published in English for the first time by the Clarendon Press in 1932 as Caravan Cities. The English translation of the work dealt principally with Petra, Jerash, Palmyra and Dura in the "near east", after Rhodes, Cyprus and Mycenaean Greece were removed from the translation as not being caravan cities.[2]

Other caravan cities include Aroer[3] in Jordan, Oualata in Mauritania, Palmyra[4] and Damascus in Syria, and Samarkand in Uzbekistan.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Late Antinquity" by Richard Lim in The Edinburgh Companion to Ancient Greece and Rome. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2010, p. 115.
  2. ^ Rostovtzeff, M. (1932) Caravan Cities. Translated by D. & T. Talbot Rice. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1932, p. v.
  3. ^ Anatomy of a Caravan City: Aroer on the South Arabian Trade Route by Yifat Thareani-Sussely. Israel Antiquities Authority, 2013.
  4. ^ Palmyra as a Caravan City Albert E. Dien, Walter Chapin Simpson Centre for the Humanities, Washington University, 2013. Retrieved 27 October 2013. Archived here.

Further reading[edit]

  • Sommer, Michael. Hatra. History and culture of a caravan city in Roman-Parthian Mesopotamia. Mainz, 2003. ISBN 3-8053-3252-1