Incorrect Username, Email, or Password
This object does not yet have a description.

Identification and Creation

Object Number
Wall Painting Fragment
Work Type
wall painting fragment(s)
160-250 CE
Creation Place: Ancient & Byzantine World, Asia, Dura-Europos (Syria)
Roman Imperial period
Persistent Link


Level 3, Room 3440, Ancient Mediterranean and Middle Eastern Art, Ancient Middle Eastern Art in the Service of Kings
View this object's location on our interactive map

Physical Descriptions

Pigment on Plaster
Irreg.: H. 6.3 × W. 8.1 × D. 2.5 cm (2 1/2 × 3 3/16 × 1 in.)


Recorded Ownership History
Dura-Europos (near modern Salihiyeh, Syria), excavated [1]; by the Yale-French Excavations [2] (by 1937), gift; to Prentice Duell [3], Boston, MA, (by 1940), gift; to Fogg Art Museum, 1940.

[1] The specific archaeological findspots (on the site) of the gifted wall painting fragments were not recorded (Letter, Clark Hopkins to Prentice Duell, June 9, 1940, Folder 13 ("Blue: Azurite"), Pigment File, Unspecified MS Box No. 3, Papers of Prentice Van Walbeck Duell, 1894-1960, Special Collections, Fine Arts Library, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA).

[2] Yale-French Excavations at Dura-Europos (1928-1937), a collaboration between Yale University (New Haven, Connecticut) and the French Académie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres (Paris), in agreement with the High Commission of the French Republic (French Mandate of Syria). A portion of excavated finds were distributed to Yale under partage agreements.

[3] Given as samples of ancient wall painting under the auspices of Clark Hopkins (1895-1976), field director of Yale-French Excavations at Dura-Europos, 1931-1935, to Prentice Duell (1894-1960). Duell was an architect, archaeologist, and scholar of ancient painting. Duell worked on archaeological field projects in the US, Greece, and Egypt (Saqqara); he was a research fellow of Etruscan art at the Fogg Museum from 1939 to 1960.

Acquisition and Rights

Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Gift of Prentice Duell
Accession Year
Object Number
Asian and Mediterranean Art

The Harvard Art Museums encourage the use of images found on this website for personal, noncommercial use, including educational and scholarly purposes. To request a higher resolution file of this image, please submit an online request.


Pink and red pigment on brown-white plaster. Pink ground with darker red-pink stripes.

Samples of the pigments and plaster were taken and analyzed in the Straus Center in 2023. Ultraviolet-induced fluorescence imaging produced results consistent with madder lake pigment in the pink, while Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR) analysis resulted in the identification of gypsum in both the white and pink. The plaster was identified as gypsum plaster.
This fragment of painted wall plaster is one of a group of wall painting fragments (1940.97.1-83) in the collections of the Harvard Art Museums that were excavated at the site of Dura-Europos by the Yale-French team between 1928 and 1937. Given as study samples of ancient painting and pigment to ancient painting scholar Prentice Duell, they were again given as samples of painting to the Fogg Museum in 1940.

The ancient town of Dura-Europos is located today near the modern village of Salihiyeh, Syria. Located in the Middle Euphrates region (on the west bank of the Euphrates River), Dura-Europos is set between the Syrian steppe to the west and the Mesopotamian plain to the east. This location put it on the borderlands between empires, a zone contested over centuries. Founded under the Macedonian Greek Seleucid empire around 300 BCE, it subsequently passed between Parthian empire (by the late second or early 2nd century BCE), the Roman empire (by around 165 CE, after which it became a military garrison town), and the Sasanian empire (whose invasion in about 265 CE destroyed it). The small but cosmopolitan town is especially famous for figural wall paintings in its religious spaces, which include many temples to local and nonlocal gods, a Jewish synagogue, a Christian place of worship, and a Mithraeum (a shrine for the mystery cult of the god Mithras).

Exhibition History

  • 32Q: 3440 Middle East, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 12/11/2023 - 05/01/2025

Verification Level

This record was created from historic documentation and may not have been reviewed by a curator; it may be inaccurate or incomplete. Our records are frequently revised and enhanced. For more information please contact the Division of Asian and Mediterranean Art at