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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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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 16 June 2021

The Plateau Zone West of G St

The Plateau Zone West of G St

5 The Plateau Zone West of G St
The Roman Military Base at Dura-Europos, Syria

Simon James

Oxford University Press

One of the first structures explored at Dura in 1920, this temple (or perhaps better, sanctuary: Buchmann 2016, 116) was subsequently completely excavated but never fully published. Preliminary accounts were written by the excavators (Cumont 1926, 29–41; PR 2, 11–12, 67–9 (Pillet), PR 4, 16–19 (Pillet); Rostovtzeff 1938, 68–75 and pl. VI) and it has been much discussed since (Downey 1988, 105–10 for overview and references; Dirven 1999, 326–49 for the Palmyrene evidence; Leriche et al. 2011, 28). It remained a temple through the Roman period, apparently no part of it other than, presumably, the upper levels of city wall Tower 1 being used for secular military purposes. However, its continued existence in the farthest corner of the military base, and its attested use for worship by the Roman military community, demand discussion here. Indeed one of the very first military discoveries was the Terentius wall painting on the N wall of the temple’s room A, depicting a Roman military sacrifice by cohors XX Palmyrenorum before a triad of its national deities and the Tychai of Dura and Palmyra (Pl. I; Breasted 1922; Cumont 1923; Breasted 1924, 94–101, pl. XXI). Cumont consequently called the sanctuary the ‘Temple of the Palmyrene Gods’ (Cumont 1926, 29). In recent decades it has been more usually known as the ‘Temple of (i.e. Palmyrene) Bêl’, following Rostovtzeff (1938, 51), although in Parthian times it was probably dedicated to Zeus (Welles 1969, 63; Millar 1998, 482; Kaizer 2002, 122). No evidence indicates Palmyrene worship in the Parthian-era temple (Dirven 1999, 327–8). There is no consensus on the name for the sanctuary, so I follow MFSED’s ‘Temple of Bêl’ (Leriche et al. 2011, 28; also now Kaizer 2016b, 37–41). Described as laying in ‘J3/5’ by the Yale expedition, it actually lies N of these blocks in an area MFSED has labelled J9 (Leriche et al. 2011, 28–30). During the third century when the temple lay within the Roman base area, it did become the focus of Palmyrene cults, likely ‘related to Palmyrene soldiers or people associated with them’ (Dirven 1999, 328).

Keywords:   aedes, horrea, imagines, pithoi, temenoi, Bostra, Clodius Albinus, Heliodorus, Künzing

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