Dura Europos: Where History Lies
There are some places where you would think twice visiting – like the war-torn Syria.
Looking at it the Ruins of Dura Europos, it pales in comparison to the brilliant city lights of Paris or to the grandeur of famous basilicas across Europe; however, beneath every tumbled stones and every torn walls of this besieged, abandoned city is a story of Faith for Christians, Jews, and Pagans alike.
Dura Europos is a Seleucid- founded settlement that rises 90 meters above the right side of the famous Euphrates River. It was located near the village of Salhiyé of present Syria and near the border of Iraq.
Climate in Dura Europos has hot and dry summer, which starts at May and ends in October. The wet seasons, however, starts in November then ends in April.
Due to the increase visits from tourists, the management of Dura Europos has reconstructed one of its buildings to serve as a commercial center where one can shop for souvenirs; in spite of this, there are still no available inns in the vicinity.
Tourists are then advised to travel through taxis, buses, or coach tours.
WHAT TO SEE
The discovery of this sand-buried civilization started around the 1920s when a British soldier discovered a fresco near the site where they are digging trenches. American archaeologist James Henry Breasted was then called on-site and thus, the digging of the past started.
Dura Europos Christian House Church
The World’s oldest Christian Church could be found here in the ruins of Dura Europos. It was a house church built around the beginning of the 3rd century. It was a mud-brick upper class Roman style house where there is a courtyard at the center. Due to prohibited Christian practice during that time, this church is designed to be inconspicuous.
This house church is composed of different rooms for different occasions such as Baptism and Eucharistic celebrations. Each room is decorated with well-preserved murals depicting various encounters of Jesus Christ in his Messianic Mission. Examples of murals are Jesus as The Good Shepherd, Healing of the Paralytic and his encounter of the woman in the well.
The Oldest Preserved Jewish Synagogue
The oldest preserved Jewish synagogue could also be found in Dura Europos. There are numerous inscriptions in papyrus fragments and parchments that are written in different languages such as Greek, Latin, Palmyrenean, Hebrew, Hatrian, Safaitic, and Pahlavi. Oldest depictions of the Jewish Trah could also be found in the walls of this synagogue.
The Temple of Bel and Adonis has also been excavated in Dura Europos. Numerous frescoes in various depictions of pagan gods lined the wall of the old building.
A 2nd century inscription was found in the Temple Adonis and is now under the care of the Louvre Museum, while other archaeological finds are being preserved in the National Museum of Damascus.
Archaeology Magazine – Dura-Europos: Crossroad of Cultures
Dura-Europos: Excavating Antiquity
Mary Grace Valdez