The Terentius Frieze in Context

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Maura K. Heyn, Professor (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site:

Abstract: As the sun set on James Henry Breasted’s single day of field work at Dura-Europos in 1920 he and his team stood in front of the north wall of the pronaos of the Temple of the Palmyrene Gods, Although paintings covered the entire extant wall, they had only one film plate left and chose to photograph the painting of Julius Terentius with his troops, on the right hand side of the wall (pl. 37). When Franz Cumont returned in the season of 1922 through 1923, he re-exposed the decoration on the north wall, took pictures, made illustrations, and noted graffiti. Cumont also had a protective wall built in front of the paintings. This wall was dismantled eight years later, when most of the paintings adorning the temple were removed and transported to the National Museum in Damascus and the Yale University Art Gallery." Although scholars who work at Dura-Europos know when the paintings were removed and, generally, where they went, the current location of the remainder of the north wall of the pronaos is a mystery. In his description of the removal process, field director Maurice Fillet mentions only three in particular: the painting of Terentius; the painting of Lysias, Apollodorus, and Zenodotus on the south wall of the pronaos; and the painting of Conon and his family on the south wall of the naos. It is certain, however, that other paintings were removed and transported that day, for the mythological scene on the east wall of the pronaos went to Yale along with the Terentius painting. The remainder of the north wall has not resurfaced and its disappearance has contributed to the trend that began on that fateful day in 1920, with the painting of Terentius and his troops being studied as an independent tableau. The purpose of this essay is to place the painting back into its artistic context in order to understand better the function of mural adornment in the temple.

Additional Information

L. Brody and G. L. Hoffman, eds., Dura Europos: Crossroads of Antiquity. Chestnut Hill, Mass: McMullen Museum of Art, Boston College, 221-233.
Language: English
Date: 2011
Dura-Europos, mural, artistic interpretation, Julius Terentius, anthropology

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