- Robert Amy in Palmyra (1930-1945)
- Surveying the Temple of Bel
Robert Amy’s main focus nonetheless remained the Temple of Bel. The excavation and restoration of the sanctuary, and then the publication of his findings, were among the greatest achievements of his career. This operation, which lasted many years - considerable delay had been caused by the difficulties of interpreting and reconstructing the remains, the complexity and number of drawings he had to make, and then his professional duties after returning to France - led to the publication of his masterpiece, a beautiful volume of plates of the Temple of Bel in Palmyra, completed in 1968, and his contribution to the volume of texts and photographs dating from the same period, published in 1975.
There are few first-hand accounts of Robert Amy's work at Palmyra. His five children, all born during the Second World War in Damascus and Beirut, after his marriage in May 1939, left no written record. And they were too young to remember much anyway. Only the family's photo albums show what daily life on the site may have been like.
After the evacuation of local people living among the ruins, Robert Amy and his family moved into a house at the corner of the temple’s large outer precinct. Painted white, it is clearly visible on aerial views of the site. Most of his time was taken up with his work as an architect-archaeologist and site manager for the reconstructions. But family photos taken at the time show that, as site director, he and his wife Norine Amy were also responsible for welcoming multiple official delegations and taking them on tours of the site. They made frequent trips to Damascus and Beirut. Once settled in Palmyra, they also became part of the small French community in the neighbouring town, which included such colourful characters as the adventurer Marga d'Andurain, owner of the Hotel Zenobie.