1-6 of 6 Results  for:

  • Jewish Studies x
  • Ancient Geography x
Clear all


Edith Mary Smallwood and Tessa Rajak

Caesarea (2) in Palestine, under its original name of Strato's Tower (after a king of *Sidon), was captured by the *Hasmonean king Alexander Jannaeus in 103 bce, attached to the province of Syria by Pompey in 63, and given to *Herod (1) by Octavian in 30. Between c.22 and 10 bce, Herod rebuilt the city on a lavish scale, renaming it after the emperor, and constructing a huge artificial *harbour, now exposed through underwater archaeology. Tensions over the control of the constitution between the large Jewish minority and the Graeco-Syrian majority led to riots, and delegations were sent to Nero. His decision against the Jews was followed by the desecration of a synagogue. The ensuing massacre of 20,000 Jews, allegedly in a single day, sparked off the first Jewish revolt against Rome in 66 ce. The city was the administrative capital of *Judaea under the procurators and again after 70, with a vigorous commercial life and a Roman lifestyle.


Dov Gera

Eleutheropolis (Arabic Beit Jibrin; Hebrew Beth Govrin, Beit Guvrin) is situated in Judea’s Shephelah on the southwesterly road from Jerusalem to Ascalon. This area was known as Idumaea in the Hellenistic period, the city of Maresha being an important centre. Presumably, the destruction of Maresha by the Parthians in 40bce pushed the city’s survivors to resettle some 2 km to the north and to form the village of Beth Govrin. A locality of that Semitic name, Βαιτογαβρεῖ (ἢ Βαιτογαβρά), Baetogabrei or Baetogabra, is attested in the 2nd century ce (Ptol. Geog. 5.16.6). In 199/200ce, when traveling through Syria Palaestina to Egypt, the emperor Septimius Severus refounded Beth Govrin as a polis, naming it Lucia Septimia Severiana Eleutheropolis. The city’s coins, all issued under the Severans starting with Septimius Severus’s own reign and extending to that of Elagabalus (Aurelius Antoninus (2)), disclose Eleutheropolis’s original pagan character, for they portray various deities including Tyche, Zeus Heliopolitanus, and a river god.



Benjamin Isaac

The city of Joppe/Jaffa/Yafo on the eastern shore of the Mediterranean, immediately south of modern Tel Aviv, has a long history of importance as an urban centre, from the Middle Bronze Age onward until the 20th century. It was one of the few sites along the Palestinian coast that had a usable anchorage. The present article focuses on the Hellenistic, Roman, and late Roman periods, giving a brief survey of the major events, the political, social, and administrative history, and the major sources of information.


Richard J. A. Talbert

This damaged, but still striking, floor-mosaic map offers a unique and invaluable example of late antique cartography, as well as the earliest surviving vision of the Holy Land. The map was discovered by accident around 1890, when the inhabitants of the recently repopulated village of Madaba in modern Jordan were erecting a new church (dedicated to Saint George) in the ruins of a former Byzantine one in the province of Arabia. By far the largest part of what survives of the map extends up to 10.5 × 5 metres (34 × 16 feet), although within this span several areas are missing. The survival of three other small segments reinforces the probability that the original map covered the full width of the nave(14 metres/46 feet). The orientation is east, so that the top of the map is closest to the apse and altar. The coverage visible comprises two large sections: (1) the Nile delta, part of Sinai, and the south coast of Palestine as far as Gaza; and (2) Jerusalem, the Dead Sea, and several towns around it. There is no means to determine how much farther the original map extended in each direction, but in all likelihood it ranged considerably farther north at least. The Jordan and Nile rivers, the Dead Sea, and the city of Jerusalem in bird’s-eye view (Fig.


Zeev Weiss

In the heart of the Lower Galilee lie the remains of Sepphoris, capital of the Galilee during long periods of antiquity. Both literary sources and archaeological finds indicate that the city’s population included pagans, heretics, and Christians living alongside the Jewish population. Many sages lived in the city, which, according to rabbinic literature, boasted numerous synagogues and academies (batei midrash). When Rabbi Judah ha-Nasi (the Patriarch of Judaea) moved to Sepphoris at the beginning of the 3rd century, the Jews gained a significant presence on the city council. With the growth of the Christian community came the construction of churches and the involvement of the episcopus (head of the Christian community) in municipal affairs. Economically, Sepphoris had become a well-established city due to the fertile soil in the nearby valleys and its active trade with the immediate surroundings and distant markets. Hellenistic Sepphoris was built on its hill and slopes. Early in the 2nd century ce, the city spread considerably eastward, boasting an impressive grid of streets with a colonnaded cardo and decumanus running through its centre. Various public buildings were built in the city, including a temple, a forum, bathhouses, a theatre, a monumental building identified as a library or archive, as well as churches, synagogues, and some other structures dating to the early Byzantine period. Most of the common people lived in simple houses, while the wealthy lived in spacious, well-planned dwellings. The architectural layout of these large structures is impressive, as are the more than sixty colourful mosaics from the 3rd to 6th centuries ce uncovered in its private and public buildings. The various depictions in the mosaics have parallels in other cities of the Roman and Byzantine East, not only enhancing the ancient ruins of Sepphoris but also providing invaluable information about the city and its population. The wealth of evidence emerging from Sepphoris offers perhaps the greatest insight into Jewish society and its changing attitudes towards the Graeco-Roman culture to which it was exposed. This new outlook did not occur overnight or in all strata of Jewish society; rather, it was an ongoing process that intensified in the Roman period and reached a peak in the 5th and 6th centuries ce.


Arnold Hugh Martin Jones and Tessa Rajak

Tiberias, on the west side of Lake Galilee, was founded by *Herod (2) Antipas. Despite its Greek constitution, it was a primarily Jewish city. It was generally treated as capital of *Galilee until *Nero gave Galilee to M. *Iulius Agrippa (2) II. In the Jewish revolt, the people were anti-Roman, but the upper classes loyal; according to *Josephus' Life, the city repeatedly changed sides, then surrendered to *Vespasian.