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Joseph Patrich

Caesarea Maritima was founded (22–10/9 bce) by Herod (1) the Great. Named after Caesar Augustus, Herod’s patron, it served as the administrative capital and main port of his kingdom of Judaea, later the Roman province of Syria-Palaestina. Herod’s building projects are described in detail by Flavius Josephus (AJ 15.331–341; BJ 1.408–415). Many of its structures have been uncovered in the archaeological excavations carried out at the site since the 1950s. In 71 ce, Caesarea became a Roman colony and Latin became the official language. A praetorium for the financial procurator provinciae was erected there by Vespasian and Titus in 77/78 ce. In the 2nd–4th centuries it was a prosperous city where Gentiles, Jews, Samaritans, and Christians lived side by side. It was a centre of intellectual activity.Caesarea (2) in Palaestina (Qisri, Qisrin in the Rabbinic sources), also known as Caesarea Maritima, was founded (22–10/9bce) by .


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.


Avner Ecker

After the Babylonian exile, Jews returned to their city under Cyrus I and rebuilt their temple in Jerusalem in 539 bce. Jerusalem eventually became the only monotheistic centre within the Greco-Roman world. Most Jews regarded their temple as the only temple to Yahweh. Three annual pilgrimages from the entire Mediterranean basin marked the city’s life cycle. The temple grew rich through donations, tithes, and a voluntary tax given by Jews. The city of the Second Temple Period was run according to a set of Jewish religious laws. Antiochus IV attempted to mould it into a Greek-style polis and instigated the Maccabean revolt (167–160 bce). The riches of the temple allured Hellenistic and Roman rulers alike, whereas the unique religious character of Jewish Jerusalem posed continuous political challenges. Indeed, the city was besieged, and the temple occasionally plundered by a succession of Hellenistic and Roman conquerors. Jerusalem and the temple flourished under Herod and his dynasts (Plin. HN 5.


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.


Reinhard Pummer

The Samaritans are an ethno-religious community cognate with, but different from, Judaism. Both religions are branches of Yhwh-worshiping Israelites that parted ways around the turn of the era. Both, however, base their beliefs and religious practices on the Pentateuch/Torah. In the Persian period the Yahwistic Samarians built a temple on Mount Gerizim which eventually came to be seen as a rival temple to the temple in Jerusalem. Thus, the origin of the Samaritans lies in antiquity but a small community still exists today. Besides inscriptions and archaeological finds, our main source for the early history of the Samaritans is Flavius Josephus. For the Late Roman and the Byzantine periods, we have a variety of non-Samaritan texts and Samaritan chronicles. The latter, however, were compiled only in the Middle Ages, although they rely on older sources.Samaritans are an ethno-religious community cognate with, but different from, Judaism. Both religions worship Yhwh as the only god and differ principally with respect to the site that each holds most sacred: Mount Gerizim near the Roman city of Flavia Neapolis (modern Nablus) for the Samaritans and Mount Zion or .


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.