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Dura Europos, Syria

Dura Europos is the greatest of all the 3rd millennium Euphrates kingdoms founded by Alexander's Lieutenant, Seleucus I Nicator, at the beginning of the Hellenistic period when the empire of Alexander was divided among his heirs and Northern Syria/Mesopotamia was apportioned to Seleucus I Nicator.

Dura Europos was founded as part of a network of military colonies intended to secure Seleucid control of the Middle Euphrates, probably between 300 and 280 BC. Dura ("the fortress" in Old Semitic) formed a defensive strongpoint on the access route between the two major military centres, Apamea and Seleucia on the Tigris River (Southern Iraq). The ambitious plan for the city was probably never completed in view of the political uncertainties that dogged the Seleucid Kingdom.

Ruins of Dura Europos, An Aerial View

The town was closely linked with Palmyra, serving as an important forward line of defense against Persians. It was captured and destroyed by the Sassiness in 256 AD shortly before the fall of the great Syrian Metropolis itself.

This site did not attract significant attention until 1921, when some mural paintings were discovered by accident in one of the sixteen temples dedicated to the various gods of Palmyra, few could have expected that the incident was about to provide a new perspective on the part Dura Europos played in the drawn-out struggle between cultural, political and military influences of the East and West. Many other discoveries followed, notably frescoes dating from 235 AD which were in a remarkable state of preservation.

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