Financed by taxes on caravans which passed between the Mediterranean and Mesopotamia, Palmyra was intended to rival Rome in its magnificence. Most of the building was done during the third century under the ambitious Queen Zenobia. Considered an upstart by the Roman Emperor Aurelian, she was taken to a distinguished early retirement in Rome, bound in gold chains. The ruins remain one of the most extensive historical sites in the world, with much still covered by the desert sands. As well as the colonnaded main street, there is the huge temple of Bel, and strange funerary towers dot the desert to the south.