Dura Europos Meta Project

Dura Europos Meta Project

I have been interested in Roman material culture for over 30 years. It was sparked by the original airing of I, Claudius on television all those years ago and the exhibit which came to the Metropolitan Museum in New York in the late 1970s, “Pompeii A.D. 79.” The interest has never left me but in recent years I have been drawn to the military objects from the mid-Empire, 200-250 C.E. The assemblage from Dura Europos, Syria, is especially interesting to me because, like Pompeii, it is a time capsule which has come down to us in a fairly good state of preservation.

The bulk of the objects excavated at Dura are in the collections of Yale University. This includes items as diverse as pottery shards to the frescos from a Christian house church, one of the earliest found. The remainder is housed at the National Museum in Damascus, including the spectacular frescos of Old Testament stories from the Dura Europos synagogue.

I have used the objects from Dura Europos as jumping off points for study of comparable items from elsewhere in the Empire. A plate from a FELIX VTERE belt found at Dura has a very close parallel with one from a complete set from VaraĹždinske Toplice, Croatia. Seal box lids and bottoms have parallels from examples found the length and breadth of the Empire, as do wax tablet pages. Seal rings in bronze and silver are common in the archaeological record as well. The examples are numerous and varied.

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