Dura Europos

Qusur Umm Saba , Deir ez-Zor , Syria

About Dura Europos

Dura Europos was a thriving ancient city in Eastern Syria occupied by a series of civilisations, now represented by well preserved ruins.

It was one of the successor states that emerged after the death of Alexander the Great, the Seleucid Greeks, who founded Dura Europos in 300BC, locating it at the mid-point between their two capitals and overlooking the Euphrates River.

Over the centuries, Dura Europos developed from a caravan settlement into more of a commercial hub. In addition, time would also see this city taken over by a succession of peoples, first the Arsacid Parthians, then the Romans in around 160AD. Dura Europos was finally destroyed in 256AD, attacked by the Sasanid Persian Empire. In a remarkable discovery during the excavations the remains of Roman soldiers were found inside the underground siege tunnels which had been dug by Persian forces intent on undermining the walls.

Part of what made the archaeological discoveries at Dura Europos so impressive was not just their good state of preservation, but their intricate and ornate decorations including frescos and wall paintings. In fact, the site was so well conserved, some have taken to calling it the Syrian Desert’s answer to Pompeii. The majority of these fascinating finds are now on show in museums including the Louvre and the National Museum of Damascus.

Today, the impressive remains of Dura Europos illustrate its cultural and historical diversity. In addition to Greco-Roman ruins including temples, the site is home to the ruins of one of the world’s oldest known synagogues and what has been described as the earliest known church.

Visitors can explore the towering defensive walls and fortifications as well as evidence of the seigeworks which brought down the city. There are also great views to be had from the high cliffs above the Euphrates.

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