It turns out that Yale University has a direct connection with Dura as archaeologists from the school along with French colleagues conducted extensive excavations at the site from the late 1920s into the 1930s and many of the artifacts can be seen as the Yale University Art Gallery which THC recently visited.
Dura Europos was founded as a Greek Macedonian colony around 300BC, shortly after the death of Alexander the Great eventually being incorporated into the Roman Empire by the Emperor Septimius Severus in 197AD before being destroyed by King Shapur I of the resurgent Sassanian Empire around 256AD.
The site lay abandoned and eventually covered by desert sands until accidentally discovered by British soldiers digging a trench in 1920. The excavated town was a perfectly preserved relic from the third century.
(excavated Dura Europos; image from DigitalGlobal Inc)
The Sassanid siege was lengthy and brutal. Excavators have found remains of several tunnel dug by the besiegers to undermine walls and attempt to gain access to the city. In those tunnels have been found the remains of Roman and Sassanid soldiers who died in a dark underground struggle. For those of you who enjoy historical fiction there is a fine recent novel based upon the siege, Fire In The East by Harry Sidebottom, the first volume of his Warrior of Rome series.
Dura Europos was a prosperous and cosmopolitan city during its existence with a population consisting of Greeks, Syrians, Palmyerenes, Jews, Persians and other trading peoples. The Yale-French excavations uncovered evidence of this mixing as well as of the Roman occupation garrison, including the oldest known Christian home church and one of the oldest Jewish synagogues ever found. Below is a ceiling tile from the synagogue: