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The Roman Military Base at Dura-Europos, SyriaAn Archaeological Visualization$
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Simon James

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780198743569

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2020

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198743569.001.0001

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Developing a New Perspective on Dura’s Military Base

Developing a New Perspective on Dura’s Military Base

Chapter:
3 Developing a New Perspective on Dura’s Military Base
Source:
The Roman Military Base at Dura-Europos, Syria
Author(s):

Simon James

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/oso/9780198743569.003.0016

This research project arose, as many do, from an intersection of personal research interests and fieldwork opportunity. At its inception, I had already been working on material from Dura for twenty years, principally writing my PhD on the remarkable finds of (mostly Roman) arms and military equipment from the site, resulting in Final Report 7. I originally came to Dura as a Roman military archaeology specialist, but was acutely aware of my limited grounding in the specifics of the archaeology and history of the region. However, it is also clear that study of so huge and complex a data set as that from Dura must be a team effort involving many specialists from a wide array of disciplines and backgrounds, all of whom may bring outside perspectives potentially illuminating to the whole. My collaboration with MFSED began with an invitation from Pierre Leriche to examine some newly found items of military equipment. Spending time at Dura permitted an extended examination of the city, the Sasanian siege works, and Roman countermeasures (resulting in a publication on the Tower 19 complex, and indications of use of a ‘chemical weapon’ in the fighting: James 2011b), and especially of the military base where the soldiers whose equipment I had studied through artefacts and iconography had mostly lived. As previously mentioned, the base was not a primary research objective of MFSED. However, a project on the fixed infrastructure of the garrison would form a logical follow-on to my study of its martial material culture in FR 7. Contributing to MFSED’s general aims of recording and publishing the city’s remains, and to wider Dura scholarship, it also offered the chance to publish arguably the most important revealed but incompletely studied Roman military site in the empire. Further, this intra-urban military base constituted an ideal opportunity to pursue my own wider research interest, in how the Roman military interacted with civilian populations. At an early stage in my research career, I had come to believe that the Roman military could only be understood in context, of Roman society as a whole, and of the peoples it fought, conquered, and settled amongst.

Keywords:   Europaioi, Total Station surveys, agora, brothel, excavation methodology, inner rampart, magnetometry, window glass

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