Dura Europos, Syria

The International Carlo Scarpa Prize for Gardens

XXI Annual Award, 2010

The Jury of the International Carlo Scarpa Prize for Gardens has decided that the twenty-first of these annual awards (2010) will go to Dura Europos, near Salhiyé, on the right bank of the middle course of the River Euphrates, in Syria, about 90 kilometres along the road from Dayr az-Zawr to the Abu Kamal bridge and the present-day border with Iraq.
The site is what remains of an ancient city, surrounded on three sides by defensive walls, with the east-facing fourth side overlooking the great river from a height of over 40 metres, an escarpment that offers a spectacular view both of the fertile alluvial plain stretching away to the horizon and of the powerful vertical structure of the dramatically poised ramparts.
On the northern and southern sides the walls follow jagged lines along deep ravines scored into the earth by watercourses flowing from the steppelands of the plateau down to the river. On the western side the wall runs straight for almost a kilometre, punctuated by fourteen towers and pierced by the “Palmyrene Gate”, which is flanked by two more tall towers.
Discovered “by chance” by a military detachment in 1920, this archaeological site immediately attracted the attention of eminent European and American scholars. Thanks to three successive phases of investigations Dura Europos has been one of the richest sources of historical information about the events and aspects concerning the civilizations, arts and religious cults that flourished in the Middle East in the five centuries and more between the end of the IV century BC and the middle of the III century AD in an area that was especially permeable to contacts and interchanges between the Mediterranean and Asian worlds.

Text taken from the 2010 Carlo Scarpa Prize Statement, edited by the Jury.