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arrived, signifying that Dura's cult of Mithras had been established and was primarily practiced by the Roman military.40 In other words, this deity, who could have acted as a binding spiritual force for the eastern segments of the city's population, instead drew an even sharper line between the civilian and military. The worship of Mithras had little relation to other local religious traditions and excluded the majority of the city's population, while at the same time binding the military even more tightly together as a single, and seemingly exclusive, unit.41

Under Roman rule, most of the city was preoccupied with providing services (including housing and supplies) to its resident forces, who were themselves concerned primarily with fortifying the city to withstand an assault from neighboring Persians.42 Dura developed into a base of operations against Parthia and later Sasania, with its soldiers sallying forth to engage in skirmishes with the Persians along the Euphrates River.43 Its status as a caravan city decreased as a result since many merchants avoided the area surrounding Dura altogether in favor of more peaceful environs for conducting business.44 Because the level of commercial activity dropped considerably under the Romans, there was a general decrease in the standard of living for Dura's population.45 In the end, the Roman effort to preserve this city, located on the very fringes of its eastern empire, proved futile. Dura was ultimately destroyed by the Sasanian Persians in 256 C.E., despite a desperate attempt by the Roman military, as well as many of Dura's civilian residents, to ward off the coming assault.46 What happened to Dura's citizens after the Sasanian victory is a mystery, though they may possibly have been sold as slaves.47

So where does Dura's Jewish community fit under Roman rule? During the Hellenistic period, as mentioned earlier, the Jews may have lived in the city as mercenary soldiers, as local merchants, artisans, and administrators, and as slaves. There is no reason to believe that this did not continue through the period of the Parthians and into the Roman era.48 Any Jews who had been fortunate enough to enjoy citizenship during Seleucid rule (e.g., settled mercenaries and officials) may possibly have been awarded Roman citizenship rights, as well, though the number of Jews to whom this actually applied must have been very small. As mentioned above, most of Dura's population during the Parthian period lived on low incomes, and this probably extended


40. Pollard, 222.
41. Pollard, 221, 223.
42. Gutmann (1975), 213; Welles, 258-259.
43. Rostovtzeff (1932), 110, 114.
44. Ibid.
45. Kilpatrick, 215; Kraabel, 80; Matheson, 18, 35.
46. Gates, 166; Kilpatrick, 215.
47. Matheson, 38.
48. Gutmann (1975), 213; White, 93.

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