Dura Europos Syria

This important archaeological site in eastern Syria has been called the "Pompeii of the Desert." Abandoned and filled with sand following a siege in 256, the ancient city contains the oldest surviving house-church and synagogue ever found.

Quick Facts

Go Historic ID
Dura Europos
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303 BCE
Dura Europos Founded by Seleucids
150 BCE
Dura is rebuilt as a great Hellenistic city, with a rectangular grid of streets arranged around a large central agora. Its location on a major crossroads makes it a very cosmopolitan city, as evidenced by inscriptions in many languages and the religious b
165 CE
Romans capture Dura Europos
230 CE
The house-church and synagogue of Dura Europos are constructed and decorated with murals.
256 CE
A Sassanian siege brings the history of Dura to an end. In a last-ditch attempt to save the city, the synagogue is filled in to make a fortress, ensuring its preservation. Following the siege, the city is abandoned. It is soon covered in shifting sands an
Archaeological excavations are carried out by French and American teams.
30 Mar 1920
During the Arab rebellion in the aftermath of World War I, a British soldier digging a trench uncovers beautifully preserved frescoes. The American archeologist James Henry Breasted, then at Baghdad, is alerted.
Franz Cumont publishes the first archaeological reports on the site, identifying it as Dura-Europos. A temple is uncovered before renewed hostilities in the area close it to archaeology.
Excavations at Dura Europos
Excavations resume at Dura Europos.