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Caravan center 96 km S of Deir-ez-zor on the Syrian Euphrates, founded with a Hellenistic grid plan of streets by Macedonians ca. 300 B.C. The Parthians, occupying Dura about 100 B.C., made it their frontier fortress against the Romans until Verus (A.D. 165), retreating from Seleucia on the Tigris, left it in Roman hands. After capture by Sasanians in A.D. 256, the city was abandoned.

Dura is exceptional in the character of its remains. The embankment along the circuit wall facing the desert encased religious paintings and preserved cloth, wood, parchments, and papyri. Most noteworthy are the paintings in the Temple of Palmyrene Gods, the Christian paintings, the Mithra temple in the Roman camp, and the astonishing series of paintings from the synagogue (A.D. 246). Evidences of siege operations were also preserved by the embankment. Sudden abandonment left many inscriptions and pieces of sculpture intact and in situ.

Some of the first finds are in the Louvre; the synagogue has been reconstructed in the museum of Damascus, the paintings of the Christian building and the temple of Mithra in the Gallery of Fine Arts at Yale. On the site there remain the stone walls of the circuit, the Parthian citadel, and the Redoubt palace, as well as the foundations of temples and of private and public buildings. The cliff, broken by the river, has carried away part of the citadel and the circuit wall to the S.

To the S of the main gate along the wall are a Roman bath and private houses in the first block; the Christian building (the baptistery with paintings was the NW room) in the NW corner of the second block; the Temple of Zeus Kyrios against the city wall close to the tower at the S end of the same block; and, beside the next tower to the S, the battlements above a Sasanian tunnel running beneath the fortifications. In the SW corner of the city lies the Temple of Aphlad.

In the first block N of the main gate the embankment contained a Tychaion; the synagogue was in the second, the Temple of Mithra four blocks beyond, and the Temple of Palmyrene Gods in the NW corner. In the block E of the synagogue lies the Temple of Adonis.

On the N side on the main street, the third block from the gate constituted the caravanserai. Three blocks beyond and one block to the left (N) of the main street lie the remains of the agora, with stone foundations of Hellenistic buildings beneath rubble colonnades and shops of later periods. Opposite the agora and one block S of the main street are the temples of Artemis in the W block, the Temple of Atargatis on the E. The Temple of the Gaddé lies between that of Atargatis and the main street.

Three blocks E of the agora was the Temple of Zeus Theos, and E of that one looks directly to the middle of the citadel wall. On the citadel the stone foundations of the Parthian palace lie over stone Hellenistic foundations. Parts of both were lost in the fall of the cliff.

In front of the N entrance to the citadel lies the little Roman military temple. On the S slope of the E-W wadi S of the citadel rises the Hellenistic embossed wall of the Redoubt palace. Between Redoubt and citadel were a Roman bath and private houses; to the S, behind the palace, was the Temple of Zeus Megistos. The NW section of the city contains the Roman camp with barracks, a Roman bath and, in the center, the praetorium. Behind the praetorium is the Temple of Azzonathkona. A Parthian bath lies just beside the amphitheater on the S side of the camp.

The NE corner of the city contains the headquarters of the Dux (3d c.) and the Dolicheneum. In the desert lie innumerable subterranean tombs and the foundations of funerary towers. The temple of the necropolis is NW of the main gate, and the remains of the triumphal arch of Trajan are N of the city over the former road up the river.


F. Cumont, Fouilles de Doura-Europos 1922-3 (1926); id., CRAI (1934) 90-111 (Mithraeum); J. H. Breasted, Oriental Forerunners of Byzantine Painting (1924); Excavations at Dura-Europos. Preliminary Reports (1929-); J. Johnson, Dura Studies (1931); M. I. Rostovtzeff, Caravan Cities (1932); id., RömMitt 49 (1934) 180-207 (Mithraeum); id., “Dura and the Problem of Parthian Art,” YCS 5 (1935) 155-304; id., Dura-Europos and its Art (1938); id., “The Foundations of Dura-Europos,” Annales de l'Institut Kondakov 10 (1938) 99-106; id., “Res Gestae Divi Saporis and Dura,” Berytus 8 (1943) 17-60; C. Hopkins, “Aspects of Parthian Art in the Light of Discoveries from Dura-Europos,” ibid. 3 (1936) 1-31; R. O. Fink et al., “The Feriale Duranum,” YCS 7 (1940) 1-222; R. Dussaud, “Cultes de Palmyre et de Doura-Europos,” Mana 1, 2 (1945) 403-14; L. T. Shoe, “Architectural Mouldings of Dura-Europos,” Berytus 9 (1948) 1-40; C. B. Welles, “The Population of Roman Dura,” Studies in Honor of Allan Chester lohnson (1951) 251-74; id., “The Chronology of Dura-Europos,” Symbolae Raphaeli Taubenschlag dedicatae III (1957) 467-74; R. N. Frye et al., “Inscriptions from Dura-Europos,” YCS 14 (1955) 127-213; C. H. Kraeling, The Excavations at Dura-Europos, Final Report VIII, pt. 1, The Synagogue (1957); pt. 2, The Christian Building (1967); E. R. Goodenough, Jewish Symbols in the Greco-Roman Period 9-11, Symbolism in the Dura Synagogue (1964); J. Gutmann, ed., The Dura-Europos Synagogue. A Re-evaluation (1932-1972) (1971).


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