The city is mentioned in tablets dating from as early as the 19th century BCE. It attained prominence in the 3rd century BCE, when a road through it became one of the main routes of east-west trade. Palmyra was built on an oasis lying approximately halfway between the Mediterranean Sea (west) and the Euphrates River (east), and it helped connect the Roman world with Mesopotamia and the East.
For a time, the so-called Islamic State or ISIS controlled the region around Palmyra, and some of the ruins at the site were destroyed. The Syrian government retook the area in March 2016, and the ancient site—which has survived multiple wars and strife—remains a key historical and cultural treasure. Palmyra was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1980.