Clark Hopkins on the Discovery of the Synagogue at Dura-Europos

“Once, when I was involved in a train wreck, I had no recollection of the moment between the shock when I was thrown from my seat and when I began to pick myself up from the bottom of the overturned car. So it was at Dura. All I can remember is the sudden shock and then the astonishment, the disbelief ….”

“Only a few details of that day are still vivid … I clearly remember when the foot of fill dirt still covering the back wall was undercut and fell away, exposing the most amazing succession of paintings! Whole scenes, figures, and objects burst into view, brilliant in color, magnificent in the sunshine, though dwarfed against the vast backdrop of the sky and the tremendous mass of the embankment, they seemed more splendid than all else put together … painting after painting came into view. The west wall faced the morning sun which had risen triumphantly behind us, revealing a strange phenomenon: in spite of having been encased in dry dust for centuries, the murals retained a vivid brightness that was little short of the miraculous.”

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