3. Synagogue

The synagogue at Dura-Europos was built inside a house and is renowned for its wall paintings: they date to the 240s and feature figural biblical scenes that overturned ideas prevalent at the time of their discovery in 1932 that ancient Jewish art was required to be aniconic. The paintings include approximately 58 different narrative episodes on 28 separate panels from three of the four walls (about 60 percent of the original survives). After their excavation, they were installed within a reconstruction of the synagogue in the National Museum of Damascus. Photographs record the extraordinary discovery of the paintings, the process of their removal, and numerous details of the figures in the various scenes. Herbert J. Gute, an artist working with the Yale-French excavation team, painted a series of facsimile paintings that are in the collection of the Yale University Art Gallery. Together, the photographs and facsimile paintings are a valuable resource, particularly for scholars who have not been able to examine the original paintings in Damascus.



  1. Beginning of excavation in 1932
  2. View of Doorways from Courtyard into Assembly Hall
  3. Margaret Crosby, Robert du Mesnil du Buisson, workmen at excavation
  4. Susan Hopkins cleaning wall painting
  5. Central section of west wall with Torah shrine
  6. Torah shrine on west wall during excavation
  7. Right half of panel WC2 and dado
  8. Detail of panel WC2
  9. View of northwest corner
  10. Detail of panel WA3
  11. Detail of panel WC4
  12. Detail of panel WB1
  13. Workmen removing wall paintings
  14. Workmen attaching frame to paintings
  15. West wall reconstructed in National Museum of Damascus