Khaled al-Asaad, the archaeologist who has reportedly been killed by Islamic State militants, had a lifelong connection to the town, having been born into a prominent family in the area in 1934.
Although curating the ruins at the Unesco World Heritage site would become his life’s work and he had a degree in history from Damascus University, he had no formal training in archaeology – all his knowledge in this field was self-taught.
Archaeologist and former Syrian antiquities official Amr al-Azm, who knew Mr Asaad, told the BBC that he was an “icon of Palmyrene archaeology”.
“If you needed to do anything in Palmyra with regards to the archaeology or the monuments, you had to go through Khaled al-Asaad. He was essentially ‘Mr Palmyra’,” Mr Azm said.