Book Reviews

Palmyra: Mirage in the Desert edited by Joan Aruz

Palmyra: Mirage in the Desert is a beautifully produced book of 160 pages on the ancient city of Palmyra in Syria.

Palmyra is a UNESCO World Heritage site but that didn’t save it from wanton destruction of two of its temples by ISIS in 2015. An ISIS gang believed that its leading archaeologist, Khaled al-Asa’ad, knew where the gold and antiquities were hidden within the city and held him hostage for a month, torturing before finally beheading him in public and hanging his body from a column.

In 2016, a dozen international scholars decided to honour their friend and the city of Palmyra by producing this book, drawing together wonderful photographs (the earliest from 1864), sketches, maps and monographs.

They have included early photographs of Palmyra that captured the city as it was 152 years ago, with temples, streets, amphitheatres. More recent photos show those structures restored, and unfortunately, 2016’s photos show the rubble after ISIS blasted buildings flat. The Met’s publication unintentionally captures evidence of extreme terrorism, as much as it does to honour a legendary city on the Silk Road.

View Palmyra: Mirage in the Desert in the SMSA Library Catalogue

Review by Belinda Coombs,
Member of the SMSA Mystery & Crime Reading Group


Palmyra: Mirage in the Desert edited by Joan Aruz

When you join SMSA as member, you get a wide range of benefits.

Access to the SMSA Library

We are home to a unique collection of books, a highlight being our Mystery and Crime section.

Able to borrow from the Tom Keneally Centre

We are honoured to be the home of Tom Keneally’s personal collection of books, many of which have been used as research for his own works.

Access to member only events

Join a members group, share your passions, learn new skills, make new friends and get involved.

Access to member only activities such as members groups

We provide a variety of member only events, these are relaxed social occasions to have fun and make new friends.

Join as a Member

Subscribe to stay up-to-date