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Title: The arms and armour from Dura-Europos, Syria : weaponry recovered from the Roman garrison town and the Sassanid siegeworks during the excavations, 1922-37.
Author: James, Simon Timothy.
ISNI:       0000 0001 3588 9370
Awarding Body: University College London (University of London)
Current Institution: University College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 1990
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The arms and armour discovered during the excavations at the Roman frontier city of Dura-Europos, Syria, by Belgian, French and American archaeologists between the wars constitute one of the most important but least studied assemblages of the kind ever found. Little of it has ever been published. Most of the finds can be associated with the events surrounding the final destruction of the city by the Sassanians, which can be dated to the mid-250s AD. This close dating of a large body of arms is unparalleled in the Roman Empire. It is also the only really large group of Roman armour from the whole of the Eastern Empire. Most of the arms were deposited in contexts which prove they belong to the Roman defenders, but a handful belong to the Persian attackers, not least an important iron helmet, the first well-dated Sassanian head-piece. Other items, such as the cane shields, are hard to definitely attribute to either side. The material is extremely rich and diverse, the special conditions of burial of many items preserving delicate organic elements including shield paintings and arrow fletchings, allowing a much better understanding of the technology and appearance of Roman weaponry. There are a number of unparalleled complete items, such as the famous scutum and the horse-armours. The size, preservation, close dating and Eastern provenance of the collection combine to give it unique value to military archaeologists. However, close study of the evidence for the historical context of the siege demonstrates that the archaeological remains left by the defenders cannot, as hoped, be linked with the copious documentary evidence from the site. We do not know the exact identity of the Roman units defending the city. The Roman weaponry is in many respects indistinguishable from that used on the European frontiers of the Empire. Were the defenders European expeditionary troops, or Eastern troops wearing identical equipment? The answer lies in further research into the archaeology of the Eastern army, whose weapons are rarely found. The Dura assemblage will be the yardstick against which new finds will be measured.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Archaeology