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Treasures of ancient Dura-Europos released for all to see

Thursday 25 August 2011

Source: Popular Archaeology.

The exhibition, on view from September 23, 2011 to January 8, 2012 at the Institute for the Study of the Ancient World (ISAW), relates the story of life in the ancient city of Dura-Europos, located in present-day Syria, from the mid-second to mid-third century CE.

JPEG - 23.6 kb
Drachma of Sasanian King Shapur I
Silver, Diam. 2.45 cm; 3.5 g Minted at Seleucia ad Tigrim, found at Dura-Europos, ca. 241-256 CE.
Yale University Art Gallery, Yale-French Excavations at Dura-Europos: 1938.6000.47
(Photography © 2011 Yale University Art Gallery)

Aptly entitled Edge of Empires: Pagans, Jews, and Christians at Roman Dura-Europos, the exhibit showcases 77 objects from the city, including a presentation of the history of investigations and discoveries at the ancient site during excavations there in the 1920s and 1930s by Yale University and the French Académie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres. Says ISAW Exhibitions Director and Chief Curator Jennifer Chi: «The site of influential archaeological finds, Dura is an apt subject to be explored by ISAW, which is dedicated to illuminating the connections among various places and cultures of the ancient world. Moreover, as a city of extraordinary cultural diversity, Dura has great resonance for the modern world, where multiculturalism shapes the very nature and quality of daily life.»

The city was founded in the fourth century CE as a settlement under the Macedonian successors to Alexander. Situated strategically along the Euphrates River at the intersection of major trade routes, it became an important way-station for caravans traveling from Iran (Persia), Arabia and Syria toward the Mediterranean. Bordered on the east by the River, the north and south by deep ravines, and its more vulnerable western flank by a large wall, the city was also defensible to any enemy attack, extending its longevity as a settlement. Before its final destruction in 256 BC by the Sassanians, Dura-Europos was successively occupied by Parthians (Iranian) and Romans. It developed an unusually multicultural population that included Iranians, Greeks, Romans, Christians, Jews, and Pagans, living, working and worshipping side by side and speaking and writing in a variety of languages, including Greek, Aramaic, Latin, Parthian, Middle Persian, Hebrew, and Safaitic.

See online : Edge of Empires: Institute for the Study of the Ancient World New York University

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