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Dibsi Faraj and the Middle Euphrates: The Rediscovered Harper Archive

Anna Leone, Durham University, Fellow 2016–2017, Spring

I worked on the publication of the excavation of Dibsi Faraj in Syria. The site was a late Roman, Byzantine, and early Islamic citadel on the Euphrates; its excavation was undertaken by the late Richard Harper between 1972 and 1974 and funded principally by Dumbarton Oaks. Results from the excavation have been only partially published in three papers in the 1970s; a detailed final publication of this important and long-occupied site is still lacking. The site was a fortified citadel occupied from the first century into at least the twelfth century. It was probably fortified at the end of the third century, and extended between the end of the fifth century and the beginning of the sixth. The complex included two churches, one inside the citadel (ca. 345–346) and a martyrium outside the city wall (ca. 428–429). The archive of Harper’s work was recently rediscovered. I defined the chronologies of the site and the stratigraphic interpretation, and prepared for publication studies of the mosaics from the site, a comparative analysis of the forts with other structures in the region, and an initial architectural analysis of the churches.