Biblical Archaeology Review 37:3, May/June 2011

Strata: Exhibit Watch

Celebrating Multiculturalism at Dura-Europos

Through June 5, 2011
McMullen Museum of Art, Boston College
Boston, Massachusetts

The city of Dura-Europos, situated on the banks of the Euphrates River in eastern Syria, at the crossroads between the empires of Rome and Parthia, was a melting pot of cultures in late antiquity. By the third century C.E., Dura was home to Romans, Greeks, Jews, Christians, Persians and Arabs, who coexisted in relative peace while speaking different languages and practicing different religions.

Dura-Europos: Crossroads of Antiquity, now on display at Boston College’s McMullen Museum of Art, showcases this diversity. Scores of artifacts and art recovered from houses and sanctuaries, including wall paintings, sculptures, inscriptions and papyri, tell the story of Dura’s inhabitants and their centuries-long effort to coexist.

The exhibit also features partial to-scale reconstructions of Dura’s main sanctuaries, including its famous synagogue adorned with scenes from the Hebrew Bible (often pictured in BAR), as well as one of the oldest—and most finely decorated—house churches (domus ecclesiae) ever discovered.a Fragments of the actual painted walls from both buildings are featured in the exhibit, including this elegantly painted face of a woman that decorated the ceiling of the synagogue (above).

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