The city of Dura-Europos was founded in 303 B.C. by the Seleucids on the intersection of an east-west trade route and the trade route along the Euphrates. The new city controlled the river crossing on the route between his newly founded cities of Antioch and Seleucia on the Tigris. It is located near the village of Salhiyé, in today’s Syria. The city is extremely important for archaeological reasons, as it was abandoned after its conquest in 257, and nothing was built over it and no later building programs obscured the architectonic features of the ancient city. Its location on the edge of contending empires made for a co-mingling of cultural traditions, much of which was preserved under the city’s ruins. Some remarkable finds have been brought to light, including numerous temples, wall decorations, inscriptions, military equipment, tombs, and even dramatic evidence of the Sassanian siege during the Imperial Roman period which led to the site’s abandonment.
The Jewish synagogue, located by the western wall between towers 18 and 19, the last phase of which was dated by an Aramaic inscription to 244. It is the best preserved of the many ancient synagogues of that era that have been uncovered by archaeologists. It was preserved, ironically, when it had to be infilled with earth to strengthen the city’s fortifications against a Sassanian assault in 256. It was uncovered in 1932 by Clark Hopkins, who found that it contains a forecourt and house of assembly with frescoed walls depicting people and animals, and a Torah shrine in the western wall facing Jerusalem. At first, it was mistaken for a Greek temple. The synagogue paintings, the earliest continuous surviving biblical narrative cycle, are conserved at Damascus Syria.
Byzantine Emperor Justinian II
Justinian II (669 – 711) was the last Byzantine Emperor of the Heraclian Dynasty, reigning from 685 to 695 and again from 705 to 711. Justinian II generated enormous opposition to his reign, and it resulted in his deposition in 695 in a popular uprising, and he only returned to the throne in 705 with the help of a Bulgar and Slav army. His second reign was even more despotic than the first, and it too saw his eventual overthrow in 711, abandoned by his army who turned on him before killing him.