Militarism in the Wall Paintings of the Dura-Europos Synagogue: A New Perspective on Jewish Life on the Roman Frontier
- Shofar: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Jewish Studies
- Purdue University Press
- Volume 30, Number 3, Spring 2012
- pp. 1-34
- Additional Information
The city of Dura-Europos, situated on the border of the Roman and Sassanian Empires, was home to a major Roman garrison in the third century C.E. Its synagogue was decorated with wall paintings, many of which contain imagery relating to warfare. Since the synagogue's rediscovery in the 1930s, scholars have largely ignored the potential impact of Dura's militaristic atmosphere on the iconography of the wall paintings. This article posits that the designers of the synagogue paintings incorporated many aspects of contemporary military life into their representations of biblical stories. It also supports the idea that Jews served in the Roman army, and that such Jews could have been living in Dura-Europos and worshipping at the synagogue.