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21

Thus, the eye gouging incident may not reflect on the Jewish community and its relations with the larger community at all. The Jews of Dura-Europos were a people steeped in the veritable melting pot of cultures which defined the Mediterranean world in the 3rd century C.E. The local Mesopotamian styles of religious art and architecture were utilized to their fullest extent in the synagogue, and the diffuse culture of the imperial powers of the Hellenistic and Roman empires was also clearly an influence on its decorative scheme. They moved comfortably in a complex society defined by the cultural and religious explosion of the period, and they had a good command of the visual and cultural vocabulary of the day. Yet the community also persisted in maintaining its distinct identity in an atmosphere focused on militarism and commerce and highly charged with religious competitiveness. Their artwork championed the superiority of Judaism and the righteousness of its believers and may have symbolized the belief in a coming messiah. No matter the controversies and debates; they continue to be an active group whose synagogue has survived as a testament to the lives of an ancient people.


 

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