Umm Qeis


A hilltop in the north-western corner of Jordan with a magnificent view over the Yarmouk River ,the Golan Heights and Lake Tiberias.Gadara is known from the story(Matthew 8:28-34)of Jesus casting out demons from two men and sending them into a herd of pigs which then rushed down the steep slope and drowned in the lake.The exact location of the miracle is unknown.

Gedara was governed by the Potlemies,the Selecuids,was captured by the Hasmonean ruler Alexander Jannaeus(103-76BC).Little remains of the Hellenistic city;but some Nabatean finds indicate that they too were here briefly in the first century BC.

Gadara reached its glory under the romans as one of the Decapolis cities,and was especially noted for the richness of its intellectual life.It had astonishing schools of poetry and philosophy.The Gadarenes also took great delight in the famous hot springs in the valley below and then returned to the upper cooler parts to enjoy plays performed in the theaters.

There were two large theaters at Gedara,of which the small western one,ruined as it is,is the better preserved.It is built of black basalt and contained an audience of 3000.Still seated in the front row,as if petrified in mid-drama,is a headless white marble statue of Tyche,goddess of fortune and of the city.Beside the theatre stand the columns of an octagonal Byzantine church, built on the site of a Roman temple;and further west is a bath complex,behind which,on the other side of what was once the main colonnaded street.

Under the Byzantines,Gadara continued to flourish as the seat of a bishopric;but decline set in after the Arab conquest of 636.Its buildings have been built over the ruins over the centuries, and a village of great charm was constructed amongst the ruins.The villagers were moved into new housing nearby,after the archaeological work began in 1974.Some of the nice Arab houses are being restored alongside the excavation of the classical site.
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