Adrian Murdoch points us to new developments in our understanding of Dura Europos. Apparently, chemical warfare contributed to the ancient town’s demise.
Like Pompeii, Dura is one of those sites suddenly overcome and over-covered. So it preserves precious evidence of third-century life. There is a richly decorated house church — and a lavishly decorated synagogue. Some fascinating Jewish and Christian (and Jewish-Christian) manuscripts turned up as well, including a variant of the Didache and a Gospel harmony. The Wikipedia article links to several good, informative sites. Wikimedia offers good photos.