THE DISCOVERY OF DURA-EUROPOS: Cross-road of Cultures by Clark Hopkins


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The inside story of one of the greatest archaeological finds of this century. Hopkins directed the excavations during four of the ten ""campaigns"" (1928-37) and kept in close touch with the operation from start to finish. His account of those years in the desert wilderness of eastern Syria blends photographs and memories, art and religion, popular history and scholarly speculation in a graceful and generally interesting way (thanks in part to Bernard Goldman's capable editing). Dura-Europos was founded as a military fortress by a general of Seleucus I (himself a general of Alexander the Great) around 300 B.C. Greek rule gave way to the Parthians in the second century A.D., and then in 165 A.D. the city was taken by the Romans and held until 256, when the Sassanid king Shapur I captured it, destroyed it, and left it robe buried in the sand for almost 17 centuries. Dura in its time witnessed and harbored a rich cultural diversity, and workers at the site unearthed a bewildering variety of treasures: temples of Greek, Semitic, and Persian gods; Roman coins and artifacts; a remarkable Christian chapel; and a synagogue covered with magnificent wall paintings of Old Testament scenes--the outstanding discovery of the dig. A number of eminent scholars, including Breasted, Cumont, and Rostovtzeff, came to visit Dura, and their writings have long since won the city a place in the annals of archaeology. Hopkins adds little to their work, but he puts it in a more accessible and definitely congenial context.

Pub Date: Oct. 17th, 1979
Publisher: Yale Univ. Press