30 May 2011

Medieval Memorial Day for Cleopatra

Cleopatra as 'The Virtuous Scholar'

Who? Cleopatra? Do you mean our Cleopatra, divine queen of Egypt and lover of Julius Caesar and Mark Antony?  That Cleopatra?

Yes, the very same.

But better known to those who wrote about her scholarly temperament as Qilopatra, Qilpatra, Qalupatri, Qilawfatra, Qulfidar, Qarupa, Kilapatra, Elawpatra, Elawatra, and even Aklaupatr.  Not the ten little dwarfs but the queen's name in medieval Arabic.  All of which mean, or so we are told, 'The Weeping Rock' or 'The Weeping Woman'. 

Which makes a kind of sense, I suppose, if you were a medieval Arab historian looking for meaning in names.  But why should she weep?  According to their memories, she had nothing to cry about.

Memorial Day in Medieval Egypt

It all began with the Coptic Christian bishop, John of Nikiu (a town in the Nile Delta), who lived at the time of the Muslim conquest of Egypt, the very fraught years 639-41 CE.  John wrote a Chronicle of the History of the World (in Greek, perhaps also partially in Coptic; now lost, it was translated into Arabic and survives today only in an Ethiopian translation from 1602 CE).  Though John was an Egyptian, his memory of distant history was foggy, to say the least.  Cleopatra, he tells us, was 'a very beautiful young virgin':
[Julius] Caesar fell in love with her and married her and begat a son by her. And he gave her the kingdom of Egypt. And he named that son Julius Caesar. He was also named Caesarion.
So far, so good (if you ignore her two previous marriages, possibly unconsummated, to her brothers, Ptolemy XIII and P. XIV). But Bishop John soon loses track of Julius Caesar and knows nothing of the Mark Antony episode nor of Octavian's defeat of Antony + Cleopatra.  Rather, the good bishop drifts off into a long aside extolling Cleopatra's courage and her strength, and lauding her building projects in Alexandria, the likes of which had never been seen before.  These, he says, included a magnificent palace built on an island -- with a causeway to reach it across the bay; the draining of a large area of sea which she turned into dry land; a contrary project of digging a canal and diverting a river so that ships could come right up to the city; and yet another water management project that supplied the city with an abundance of fish. 
And she executed all these works in vigilant care for the well-being of the city. And before she died she executed many noble works and (created) important institutions. And this woman, the most illustrious and wise amongst women, died in the fourteenth year of the reign of Caesar Augustus. Thereupon the inhabitants of Alexandria and of (lower) and upper Egypt submitted to the emperors of Rome.
Clearly, and despite centuries of Roman rule, native Egyptians as late as the 7th century continued to cherish Cleopatra's memory.  In fact, we know from a graffito on a temple at Philae that her divine statues were still being cared for at least as late as 373 CE, when Egypt, and indeed the whole of the Roman Empire was officially Christian.  By John of Nikiu's time, nonetheless, her history was grossly 'misremembered', and simply riddled with errors and omissions.  Yet that was the tradition, for better and for worse, that would be further shaped by Arab historians.

"Incomparably Above All Others"

The first Muslim to write about Cleopatra was the native Egyptian Ibn 'Abd Al-Hakam, in the early 9th century* -- about 150 years after the Muslim conquest -- and he got it spectacularly wrong on two counts.  He tells us that the world-famous lighthouse of Alexandria
was built by [Queen] Daluka... It is also said that the builder of the Lighthouse of Alexandria was Qulpatra, the queen who dug the canal into Alexandria and paved its bottom.
No one knows who this Queen Daluka is so we've no idea how she comes into the story (unless she is a doppelganger of Cleopatra).  According to Al-Hakam, the two queens were credited with building the Lighthouse -- although certainly neither did.  Equally, both ladies were supposed to have erected an entirely fictitious Great Wall around Egypt to protect it from invasion.  Real or imagined, Cleopatra's building projects continued to impress medieval Arab writers.  In a way, it's easy to understand: somebody had built the massive monuments that still dominated the landscape -- the pyramids, Sphinx, and ancient temples.  If the Copts and Philo of Alexandria (the Hellenized Jew who described her great Alexandrian temple as "incomparably above all others") agreed on Cleopatra, so be it. 

But what really turned them on was her devotion to alchemy and philosophy.

Yes, you read that right.
She was a sage, a philosopher who elevated the ranks of scholars and enjoyed their company.  She also wrote books on medicine, charms and cosmetics in addition to many other books ascribed to her which are known to those who practice medicine.
Those are the words of Iraqi-born Al Mas'udi (who died in Egypt ca 956 CE).  He was the first to tell us, too, about Cleopatra's interest in the higher and rarefied scholarly spheres, such as alchemy.  He might even have had in his library her reputedly great work on the subject, 'The Book of Queen Cleopatra', in the form of a dialogue between the queen and a group of scholars.  In it, the Muslim alchemists and fellow philosophers invite her to illuminate them with her knowledge on alchemical matters and, perhaps too, on secret symbols and devices that she invented for use in alchemical investigations.  Al Mas'udi called her "the last of the wise Greeks" -- and who would argue?  As time went on, still more learned books were credited to the queen, including one on poisons and antidotes, another on mathematics, and a legal tome entitled 'The Abridged Law of Cleopatra', described as "a simple law that is easy to understand."

Indeed 'A Virtuous Scholar'

Alchemist, accomplished mathematician, medical doctor, able monarch and a scholar who was comfortable among philosophers and men of science: that is the medieval Arab tradition of Cleopatra.  There is nothing of the hedonist, sexy seductress, nor a deceiving and over-ambitious queen.  In short, this is not the Cleopatra of our classical Graeco-Roman sources:
... a frenzied queen plotting ruin against the Capitol and destruction to the empire, with her polluted crew of creatures foul with lust -- a woman mad enough to nurse the wildest hopes and drunk with Fortune's favours  (Horace Odes I 37)
So, who is right?  Does the medieval Arabic memorial 'correct' the lascivious western tradition -- which descends all the way from Horace (sucking up to Augustus) right down to Liz Taylor?

First, it must be said that the contrast between Arabic and Graeco-Roman images of the queen is somewhat overdrawn: they are not entirely on opposite ends of the pole.  Even Horace admits her courage (waxing bolder as she resolved to die... no craven woman she!).  And Plutarch, who has left us the most detailed and relatively balanced story of her reign, declares that her irresistible charm had not so much to do with physical beauty but more with her character and "the persuasiveness of her discourse", and thus with her intelligence (Life of Anthony 27). 

What is Remembered?  What is Historical Memory?

As an Egyptologist put it, "Neither representation says much about the real Cleopatra."**

"It is not unusual for people faced with cultures which they experience as 'exotic', to stereotype these other cultures as either 'dark' (with barbaric bloodthirsty males and loose ensnaring women) or as 'paradisical' (with noble warriors and all-knowing priestesses).... 

"Such models say much of the ones who adopt them and hardly anything of the cultures that they are concerned with. That the Romans, for political reasons, picked a model of the first type (Cleopatra as a shrewd seductress) should not surprise us, nor that the Arabs, for esoteric reasons (alchemists wanting to see Egypt as the land of secret science and hidden wisdom), preferred a model of the second type (Cleopatra as virtuous scholar).

While medieval Arab historians were just as fascinated by Cleopatra as everyone since, their picture of Cleopatra was no more real than that of our Graeco-Roman tradition Alas, their story was not built on original Ptolemaic facts but rather on medieval fantasies that made sense to them. They had no privileged access to genuine ancient knowledge somehow preserved and transmitted to medieval seekers of ancient secrets.  In the end, their vision was no more factual than the  biased version of events spread by the Romans and beloved of Hollywood.  Why the Arabic sources chose to emphasize and exaggerate certain aspects of her 'life' -- already very cloudy and distorted -- is in itself a fascinating study. 

But that is for another post, another time.   My Memorial Day tribute to Cleopatra's memory is done.  R.I.P. Liz Taylor.

*The medieval Arabic image of Cleopatra was brought into scholarly discourse by Okasha El Daly, an Egyptologist at the Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology.  His book, The Missing Millennium, Ancient Egypt in Medieval Arabic Writings," (2005) analysed previously untranslated Arabic texts referring to early Egyptian history.

>** Review of Okasha El Daly's Egyptology: The Missing Millennium submitted to the Egyptologists' Electronic Forum (EEF) by A.K. Eyma, 28 June 2005. The whole review is available here.


Upper left:  A fanciful illustration of an Egyptian-Arab queen and her ladies, unknown source (perhaps lifted from a turn-of-last-century German book, thence let loose on the web); via BarefootSpringNet.  If anyone knows of a proper credit, I'd be glad to hear of it.

Centre left: From an exhibit at the British Museum, Cleopatra: From History to Myth, 12 April - 26 August 2001 (Via BBC News/Reviews, 11 April 2001). Introductory text by the show's curator, Susan Walker at Fathom, The Source for Online Learning

Lower left: Via University of Oregon: 'The Age of Caesar' website.

15 May 2011

The Death of Dura-Europos (Updated)

Dead  Warrior or War Criminal?

And why does it matter now?

This is a Sasanian-Persian soldier, probably a ranking officer (his upper body was protected by iron mail armour and he carried a sword with a pommel of jade, a semi-precious stone that can be tracked to Chinese Turkestan).  He died a gruesome death in a claustrophobic tunnel below the walls of Dura-Europos in a fire that he may have intentionally set.  His men were mining under Tower 19 (not far from the Palmyra Gate) when a Roman countermine broke through and enemy soldiers entered the tunnel.

What happened next is hotly contested.  

In fact, it almost caused a diplomatic incident when Dr Simon James of the University of Leicester presented a new theory to an American archaeological congress in 2009.  He argued that the soldier was a victim of 'friendly fire' as a poison gas attack against the Romans backfired on him.  The Islamic Republic of Iran denounced his story as a deliberate defamation of its history linked to western pressure on Iran over its nuclear program.  But wait a minute!  This guy died (and Dura fell) in 256 CE -- almost 1,800 years ago.  Why get hot under the collar in 2009? 

It's complicated.

But now that Dr James has fully published his 'Gas Warfare' hypothesis in the American Journal of Archaeology,* you can judge for yourself.

The Story So Far

The fortress city of Dura-Europos lies on the Middle Euphrates at what was the eastern edge of the Roman Empire (for background, see my post, Gods at the Crossroads).  Founded by the Seleucids in ca. 300 BCE, it was taken by the Parthians in 141 BCE and it remained in their hands, almost continuously, until captured by the Romans in 165 CE, after which it was garrisoned by Roman and Palmyran troops (the latter, a cohort of horse-mounted archers, the XXth Palmyrorum).  They held it until 256/7 when it was destroyed by the Sasanian-Persians after a gruelling siege, its inhabitants either slaughtered or sold into slavery, after which the city was abandoned, covered by sand and mud, and disappeared from sight.  

Four years earlier, the Sasanians had invaded Syria, one of Rome’s richest provinces, taking the capital, Antioch, before withdrawing from the region.  In response, the Romans massively strengthened the defences of Dura to block the Euphrates road into the province.

Area of Tower 19 prior to siege
They reinforced the vulnerable western wall (facing the dead-flat plains) against rams, artillery, and undermining by building a steep mudbrick glacis to its front and a huge rampart to its rear.  The plan of the original wall, tower, and adjacent buildings are shown left. 

Area of Tower 19 with full defensive works
Fearing the worst, the Durenes demolished all nearby buildings and dumped a huge mass of material on the wreckage, thus burying everything along the inside of the wall.  The result (left) was an extended rampart roughly 20 m (60') wide, with an easy gradient to permit troops to run up to any point on the battlements. 

The anticipated attack came in 256, probably in the spring, and it must have lasted at least several months since it involved major Sasanian engineering works. The Sasanians used the full range of ancient siege techniques to break into the city, including mining operations to breach the walls and bring them down.  Roman defenders responded with countermines to thwart the attackers.  The determined resistance put up by the inhabitants forced the assailants to adopt various siege tactics, which eventually resulted in conquest of the city; the defensive system, the mines, and the assault ramp were left in place after the deportation of the population.

The Persian Offensive

Several points of assault have been identified along the western defences, probably pushed forward in parallel to overstretch the defenders (red arrows in aerial view above and left).  

Ferocious but apparently unsuccessful attacks took place in front of the great Palmyra Gate.  At the southern end of the wall, a massive siege ramp was constructed 40 m long (120') and 10 m (30') high against the wall to permit troops to enter; it consisted of a mass of rubble packed between two walls of bricks and paved with baked bricks, which made it possible to move a siege machine close to the wall.  Two tunnels, each wide enough to permit several men to advance abreast, were dug near the body of the ramp.  Attacks also involved sapping and tunnelling to get troops into the city under nearby Tower 14.

The remaining known target of attack was around Tower 19. 

 The Battle for Tower 19

One of the French excavators of Dura in the 1920s and 1930s,** Robert du Mensil du Buisson, himself a military officer, concentrated especially on the remains of the final siege.  In a narrow, low gallery under Tower 19, he discovered dramatic evidence of combat and death underground:

Here, lying in a Roman countermine intended to disrupt Sasanian attempts to undermine or sap the city defenses, du Mesnil found a tightly packed tangle of up to 20 bodies he identified as Roman soldiers, still with their equipment and their last pay in their purses, and nearby another armored skeleton interpreted as one of the Sasanian attackers.*
This is the 'crime scene' (left) that Simon James has now re-examined in an attempt to understand exactly how these Romans died, and came to be lying where they were found.

Persian Tunnelling

Their objective was to create a large breach in the city defences by undermining part of the wall, making a gap wide enough for their troops to charge from the Persian lines across the open plain to pour into the town.  The miners would sap Tower 19 at the same time in order to eliminate Roman defensive fire in that area.  To reach the walls, however, the Persians first had to dig a 40 m (130') long narrow, timber-propped approach tunnel from their own lines facing the city.  When the tunnellers got under Tower 19, they cut an upward shaft to reach the foundations of the defences, which they began to undermine.  

Roman Countermining

As the Persian miners came closer to the walls, the defenders could hear them at work (and also probably see their spoil heap rising on the plain) and so began to dig a countermine -- equally propped with timber posts and lintels -- intending to break into the Persian sap and halt their operations.  This countermine was dug through their own earth rampart behind the city wall and ran along the north side of the tower.  As discovered by Dr James, this tunnel was about 3 m (10') above the level of the Persian mine. 

The Romans were out of luck that day.  When they broke into the Persian tunnel, instead of capturing and holding it, their own tunnel was taken and destroyed, allowing the Sasanians to fire the mine: filling the tunnel with straw and bundles of wood, they ignited it, adding incendiary elements such as sulphur crystals and bitumen (a naturally occurring tar-like substance) to make it burn hotter, traces of which were found by the excavators in the tunnel.  The blazing fire incinerated the wooden struts, causing the wall and tower to slump into the Persian mine -- severely damaged, but neither collapsed thanks to the supporting mass of the glacis and rampart [when removed by the archaeologists, the effects of the mining were brought to light; above].  

The Persians would have to start all over, elsewhere.

The underground battle at Tower 19 ended, leaving in the tunnel 20 dead Romans and 1 dead Persian.  The burning question: How did they die? 

Here's du Mesnil's reconstruction of events (with some commentary of mine).

1.  When the Romans broke into the Persian tunnel, there was a fight and the Romans were driven back into their own gallery, the Persians in hot pursuit.  The Persian officer was killed in this skirmish.

2.  The Romans inside the town, seeing their miners fleeing from the tunnel (surely shouting something like "Aaagh, the Persians are coming!"; in any case in panicked disorder) hurriedly blocked up the entrance to the counter-mine, not noticing -- or caring -- that they shut in some of their own men.

3.  The Persians were too few to enter the city; they would have been fools to try as they would have been cut down as they emerged one-by-one from the dark, cramped tunnel, barely high enough for a man to stand upright. Instead, they set fire to the countermine and rapidly withdrew.  The trapped Romans, judging from the tangle of their bodies near the blocked entrance, were either killed in combat, suffocated by the fire, or died in the flames or when the roof of the tunnel collapsed.  Not a pleasant fate, in any case. 

No, says Simon James: that's not the way it happened, not at all.

Dr James has gone back and (figuratively) untangled the 'body stack'.  Rather than sitting or standing when they died, his drawings show 
a number of the lowest bodies sat up against the sides of the gallery with their legs outstretched across it -- not defensively contracted as we would expect if other, hobnailed comrades were standing over them.  Other bodies lay on top of these, mostly stretched across the mine on top of others.  How could these have ended up in such a posture, if crammed among comrades collapsing together from a standing position?
James argues that they had been deliberately dragged to this point and piled up,  stacked at least three or four bodies high.  In his scenario, the Romans did not block the entrance.  Rather, the Persians, finding about 20 dead or dying Romans on the floor of the Roman tunnel, with brutal practicality, "turned these obstacles to advantage by carrying the bodies and shields toward the countermine entrance, where they piled them into a barrier, hindering any further Roman attack...."  In other words, they used them to build what the British army calls 'organic sandbags' -- and then went about preparing their fire.

How Did These Romans Really Die?

It seems inconceivable, says James, that they could all have fallen in hand-to-hand combat in such a confined space ... nor does the disposition of their bodies suggest that they were trapped by their own side (as du Mensil supposed).

What happened, he says, was this: 

Just as the Romans heard the noise of the Sasanians working beneath the ground as they neared the walls, so the Persians heard the Roman counterminers approaching and planned a nasty surprise for them. 

As pictured left, they placed a brazier (a pan for holding hot coals) in their own tunnel below the shaft leading up to the tower (where they had started removing foundation stones).  As the Romans broke through, the Persians retreated into their approach tunnel and threw onto the brazier "some of the bitumen and sulphur crystals we know they had because they were using them, probably just minutes later, to set fire to the Roman tunnel."

When these chemicals are burned in a controlled fire, the highly inflammable bitumen and sulphur crystals combine to create sulphur dioxide, a poisonous gas, that turns to acid in the lungs when inhaled.  

Whether the Sasanian engineers pumped these fumes up into the Roman tunnel with bellows (as he thinks probable) or a natural chimney effect drew the hot gasses upward from deeper Persian tunnel into the higher Roman gallery, the result was the same: those who inhaled the deadly fumes would have been choking to death in a matter of seconds.
I think the Sasanians placed braziers and bellows in their gallery, and when the Romans broke through, added the chemicals and pumped choking clouds into the Roman tunnel. The Roman assault party were unconscious in seconds, dead in minutes. Use of such smoke generators in siege-mines is actually mentioned in classical texts, and it is clear from the archaeological evidence at Dura that the Sasanian Persians were as knowledgeable in siege warfare as the Romans; they surely knew of this grim tactic.

"Any Roman soldiers waiting to enter the tunnels would have hesitated, seeing the smoke and hearing their fellow soldiers dying," James said.  "It would have almost been literally the fumes of hell coming out of the Roman tunnel." 

Meanwhile, down in their approach tunnel, the Persians needed only to wait until the noise above them stopped and the smoke cleared.  Then they went up, found the dead and dying, stacked them, and started the fire that collapsed the gallery.  But one man paid the price for their invention of chemical warfare: the Sasanian officer who started the fire (perhaps he knelt to ignite the combustibles and accidentally inhaled a mouthful of noxious fumes) collapsed backward, grasping desperately at his chain mail shirt as he choked, and the fire partly consumed his body before the roof fell in on him and the Roman dead.

Where There's Smoke

The Tunnellers' War 1914-1918
No wonder the Islamic Republic of Iran took exception to this story.  They accused Simon James of deliberately spreading hostile, politically motivated anti-Iranian propaganda.  Not to be outdone, western media jumped all over 'the Dura Gas Warfare' dossier (Ancient Persians Who Gassed Romans Were The First To Use Chemical Weapons as if it were World War I over again.  Right-wing message boards and blogs used it as proof of the exceptionally lawless and violent nature of Iranians.  Completely witless.

Aside from that, it's a very satisfying story.  But is it true?

The elements are all there: the configuration of the two tunnels, the body stack, the dead Sasanian soldier, and, above all, the sulphur crystals and bitumen. It could have happened that way, but did it?

I have my doubts.  

First of all, the success of the operation would surely have led to it being repeated by the Sasanians.  We have 400 more years of almost constant warfare between Persia and Rome (and later Byzantium), regularly punctuated by devastating sieges, and not a single mention of the devilish Persians using poison gas or even smoke machines.*** And if they had used it, the Roman military would have adopted it sooner or later, too.  So we would be fairly likely to hear rumours of poisonous smoke attacks.  We don't.  Fire, yes; burning naphtha, yes; poisons, yes; poison gas, no.

Second, it depends how idiotic we think that Sasanian officer was.  Knowing that he was lighting a fire with noxious chemicals, he takes off his helmet, puts aside his sword (as if he had all the time in the world), ignites it ... and takes a deep breath.  I don't think so.

Third, James suggests that the Roman officers outside the tunnel did not block their tunnel entrance, thereby trapping the 20 men, "because they could not or because they contemplated a renewed assault."  But wouldn't they have been oddly negligent if they did not have blocking materials to hand? They couldn't know how large a tunnel the Persians had dug until they broke into it.  Rather, picture wounded men coming out after a skirmish in nightmarish dark (possibly already thick with smoke) and it's not difficult to imagine a rapid decision to block it.  It's no worse, I suppose, than closing the gate on men still fighting outside the walls and leaving them to their fate.  Cruel stuff happens.

Alternatively, I suggest a modified du Mesnil scenario.  Most Romans were backing out of the tunnel when the Sasanian officer starts to light the fire.  A Roman soldier stabs him and runs to the exit to find his escape blocked.  All the men trapped inside would naturally cluster at the blocked exit, shouting for help, the wounded stretched on the tunnel's floor, the fit standing until overcome by smoke, falling one after the other, this way and that, exactly as they were found -- and indeed as they appear in Dr James' drawing.   The roof falls in before the Persians can retrieve their dead comrade.  

I'm not saying this happened, of course.  It could have been entirely unexpected that the gas released by the fire turned poisonous and killed the Sasanian officer as well as the 20 men hovering near the blocked exit.  If so, the Persians didn't realize what had happened and the identical circumstances never arose again.

We'll probably never know.

Update 11 June 2011

WWI underground: Unearthing the hidden tunnel war

Archaeologists are beginning the most detailed ever study of a Western Front battlefield, an untouched site where 28 British tunnellers lie entombed after dying during brutal underground warfare. 

When most people think of WWI, they think of trench warfare interrupted by occasional offensives, with men charging between the lines. But with the static nature of the war, military mining played a big part in the tactics on both sides.   What happened at La Boisselle in 1915-16 is a classic example of mining and counter-mining, with both sides struggling desperately to locate and destroy each other's tunnels.  The tunnel networks (seen here, above left) extending far from the trench system to reach enemy territory were complex and extensive. Though they could not see each other, in places the two sides were just metres apart.

Archaeologists, historians and their French and German partners now aim to preserve the area - named the Glory Hole by British troops - as a permanent memorial to the fallen. Digging does not start until next year, but the first practical steps of mapping the tunnels and trenches using ground-penetrating radar, and exploring the geophysics are under way.

Peter Jackson tells this fascinating story on the BBC News Magazine.

*  S. James, Stratagems, Combat, and 'Chemical Warfare' in the Siege Mines of Dura-Europos, AJA 115 (2011) 69-101.

** Initial archaeological exploration of the city was carried out by the Academie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres of Paris in 1920-22.  From 1929 to 1937 Yale University and the Academie sponsored the excavations.

*** During the siege of the Greek city of Ambracia in 189 BCE, the Romans were driven from a mine that already reached under the city wall by acrid smoke from a jar filled with feathers and hot coals which was blown into the tunnel by means of a bellows (See Paul B. Kern, Ancient Siege Warfare [Indiana UP, 1999] 275-7).  In the 4th C BCE, Aeneas Tacticus wrote a treatise on war which specifically mentions using smoke to drive enemy troops out of a tunnel or even suffocate them (ibid 182).  On this subject, see now Adrienne Mayor, Greek Fire, Poison Arrows & Scorpion Bombs: Biological and Chemical Warfare in the Ancient World (Overlook Press, 2003).

Sources for this post (in addition to Simon James' AJA article and his Dura webpage)  include Pierre Leriche, current director of excavations, on Dura-Europos, at CAIS;  Jordan Lite writing in the Scientific American; and Stephanie Pappas at LiveScience.


Top left: The body of a Sasanian attacker, still clad in his iron mail shirt, helmet and sword near his feet. Image credit: Yale University Art Gallery, Dura-Europos Excavation Archive (via InSciencesOrg)

Middle left 1: Aerial view of the walled city of Dura-Europos (modified by blogger).  Photo credit: IoArch.it

Middle left 2: Newly reconstructed sequence of construction of rampart and glacis at mine site (Tower 19) prior to siege (modified by blogger): from Simon James website.

Middle left 3: Plan of the site under Roman rule (modified by blogger): from Simon James' website.

Middle left 4: New composite plan of the Roman countermine, showing the stack of Roman bodies near its entrance, the area of intense burning marking the gallery’s destruction by the Persians, and the skeleton of one of the attackers (photo: Simon James, via InSciencesOrg).

Middle left 5: Damaged walls and tower structure (Tower 19): from Simon James' website.

Bottom left: Diagram of proposed gassing of Romans at Dura-Europos (photo: Simon James, via Scientific American)

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