Two days' journey beyond Rakka, where the Euphrates breaks through the basalt dike of el-IIamme, are two admirably preserved ruins, built of gypsum and basalt, that on the Mesopotamian side called Zelebiya (Chanuga), and that on the Syrian, much the finer of the two, Halebiya or Zenobiya, the ancient Zenobia.
In 259 Odenathus, the Palmyrene adventurer whose memory has been eclipsed by that of his wife Zenobia, laid Nehardea waste for the time being, and in its neighbourhood arose the academy of Pumbedita (Pombeditha) which became a new focus for the intellectual life of Israel in Babylonia.
The fortunes of Palmyra now passed into the vigorous hands of Zenobia, who had been actively supporting her husband in his policy.
Zenobia seems to have ruled on hehalf of her young son Wahab-allath or Athenodorus as the name is Graecized, who counts the years of his reign from the date of his father's death.
Under Odenathus Palmyra had extended her sway over Syria and Arabia, perhaps also over Armenia, Cilicia and Cappadocia; but now the troops of Zenobia, numbering it is said 70,000, proceeded to occupy Egypt; the Romans under Probus resisted vigorously but without avail, and by the beginning of A.D.