"Each part of the world recapitulates, shares in and experiences the history of the world as a whole"
Fernand Braudel

Golden Brooch

3rd-4th century AD
Dura Europos
5,5 cm x 8,5 cm

Dura Europos (Salhiyet al-Furat) is a site in Deir Al-Zor in Eastern Syria, on the Euphrates River. It is located at 90 km distance to the south-east of Deir Al-Zor on the way to Abu Kamal. It extends on the right hill of the Euphrates on an area of 70 hectares.

In the ancient Assyrian language, the word “Dura” means “fort”, which already indicates the main function of this site. Dura Europos is located at a high cliff and it was built as a strategic location in the Hellenistic period, when it was named Europos. This garrison town included many architectural buildings, including military, commercial, and religious constructs. Thus it gives us an idea about the changeable history of the Syrian frontier regions at the east, whose antiquities reflect rich multiform complex civilization, where we find the local eastern art mixes with the Hellenistic Greek, Persian and Roman art.

This object was found in Dura Europos. It is a golden brooch meant to be placed on the shoulder and used to affix the garment, which would be gathered by the brooch and flow down the shoulder and the torso of the wearer.

The brooch is oval in shape, an encrusted golden frame with a central carved cameo. The periphery is carved in a radiating design, curving inward in semicircles and outward in rectangular petals with a precious stone embedded in each. The middle of the brooch is a large oval stone of dark oily green color, framed by embossed golden borders in beads and braid designs. The oval stone in the middle is carved with an image of a naked man holding a snake in his left hand while resting his right on a pillar base. A smaller-sized woman is carved standing by the base and holding a floral branch. The scene is surrounded with an incised floral design, a branch which ends with fruit.

Syria’s long-standing gold industry dates back to the 2nd millennium BC. Many beautiful objects have been found from various periods, including the Hellenistic and Roman ages. This object is an example of jewelry-making and goldsmithing profession at Dura Europos dated approximately to the 3rd and 4th centuries AD.

see also