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Decapolis, The Archaeology of

 

 

Introduction/Definition

 

The Decapolis (“ten cities”) was a group of Graeco-Roman cities in the southern Levant, in today’s Jordan, Syria and Israel. Several cities are attributed to the Decapolis, among them Damascus, Canatha, Dion, Adraa, Gadara, Hippos, Abila, Capitolias, Gerasa, Philadelphia, Pella, and Nysa-Scythopolis. The number of cities belonging to the Decapolis varied. One list of cities of the Decapolis is provided by Pliny (NH 5.16.74).

The Decapolis first is mentioned in the New Testament (Mk 5:20; Mk 7:31; Mt 4:25). In the Hellenistic period, the cities were supported by Ptolemaic and Seleucid rulers and received civic status. With the Roman conquest of Syria by Pompey in 64 B.C., the cities were attached to the new provincia Syria and were backed by Rome.

Probably in this time the term Decapolis was created and several cities counted back their civic eras to Pompey’s conquest. The cities did not form a territorial unit and they