The Syria of today offers tourists as much a cultural experience as a sightseeing one, where ancient history provides a fascinating backdrop to everyday life on the streets                          



Section Six


This city of Dura-Europos is situated close to the Syrio-Iraqi frontier. It stands in a strategic position of great natural strength on a rocky plateau. For this reason, it has attracted the attention of the Ammorite ,Arabs, the Aramaeans and the Assyrians who made it an important defensive centre.

The word Dura is believed to be Aramaen. At the beginning of the Hellenistic Age, this strategic position soon developed from a strong fortress to an important city and was given the name of Dura-Europos. The foundation of the city is attributed to the Macedonian General Nicator Seleucus. It was once a city of military and commercial character. On the one hand it constituted. in fact, a border fortress and on the other hand a big market on the caravan routes heading for Antioch the then capital of Syria.

After Arsaces. King of Parthia had liberated his country from the Seleucids domination, the rule of the Parthian began in Dura in 247 B.C. Those Parthians , who considered themselves the heirs of the Achemenids , took advantage of this dispute between the Seleucids and the Patolomies and began to expand their empire.

When Pampey put an end to the reign of the Seleucids in Syria in 64 B.C., Dura-Europos was under the rule of the Parthians. The Romans could conquer the city later on in 165 A.D. and used it as a stronghold on the eastern most frontier of the Empire. The Emperor Septimius Severus could attack Ctesiphon , capital of the Parthians , from Dura in 199 A.D.

When the Arab Kingdom of Palmyra came into existence as a force having a military and economic importance in the Orient , Dura was used as a fortress to protect Palmyra’s growing commerce. When Shapur tried to attack the Arab Kingdom of Palmyra, he was beaten back by the Palmyrene Arab troops who inflicted serious losses upon him. The Romans themselves recognized the heroism of the Palmyrene Arab cavaliers particularly their leader Hayran, son of Uzaynath.

It was the Sasanians who captured and destroyed this city shortly after 256 AD, so that their enemies might not use it as a starting point in their attack on their dominions once more. Dura thereupon succumbed to the desert. Its ruins were known to the learned world only in 1920. The excavations began actually in this site in October, 1922, where sixteen temples relating to the different religions of that period were brought to light.

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