Sunday, 20 January 2013

Project Antioch grows

A small update for my Antiocheia Mikros (Little Antioch) project.

First off, this great isometric reconstruction of Roman Dura-Europos to give a little inspiration. This is a great image as it shows the sorts of domestic buildings that will bulk out most of my city. The staggered roof tops are just the sort of thing to stage stealthy missions and pursuits across.

Keeping with a Dura theme, the first of my new buildings was inspired by the early third century synagogue at the city. Unfortunately I haven't been able to source a high resolution plan, but this one (to the left) will have to suffice.

Room 1 is an open courtyard with a colonnade along two sides, room 2 is the hall of assembly. The synagogue itself was originally a house, modified to look like the plan shown probably in the late second or early third century, and then altered again in AD 244 into a larger, grander building.

The building was excavated in 1932 and revealed some of the most spectacular frescoes I've ever seen. They have been on show in a specially built room in the Damascus National Museum - I don't know anything about their status or condition since the start of the uprising last year.

The Dura Synagogue frescoes in the Damascus Museum
Moses found in the rushes

And here is my (still quite amateurish) attempt to reproduce something similar - a Jewish house in Antiocheia Mikros. This is the first of four buildings that I am making to fit inside a 10x20cm footprint. It is 10cm across the front and 17cm in length. Depending on the set up of the town, that allows a 3cm wide alleyway running out the back.

I made some fairly significant changes, such as relocating the entrance of the building and removing some corridors, but I'm still happy enough that it contains the spirit of the original. Not sure how clear it is in the top photo, but there is even a Menorah at the door of the main hall.

The second new building is another 10x10cm building (that now makes three of six complete). It is very loosely inspired by part of our accommodation compound in Syria.

When all four buildings are placed together - along with an equestrian statue mounted on an appropriated building block (cheers Young Hotspur) - you can start to see the streetscape taking shape.


  1. Looking great! I'm thinking of starting 15mm and will do a small medieval town, and your work is really inspiring!

  2. Fabulous start, you make it look very easy.

  3. That is really impressive. I have always wanted a table of structures like that and just have not got around to doing it. Keep up the great work!!!

  4. What a wonderful project. I recently saw an exhibit on Dura at the Yale University Museum, and I was amazed by the degree to which the various coexisting religions influenced one another. Any chance of seeing the Mithraist house?

    1. While Mithraism is fascinating, the cult as it appears at Dura did not emerge until well into the Roman Imperial period so falls after the period I'm aiming for. My project is set around the time (or shortly before) the building of Nemrud Dag by Antiochos I of Kommagene. That monuments contains one of the earliest mentions of Mithras in Greek - it merges the god with Apollo as a composite figure (also with Helios) - no sign of a distinct Mystery Cult yet.

    2. Oh, I see. I guess I hadn't quite picked up on your project's historical parameters. Very nice all the same! Looking forward to watching its progress.