Jordan Cities: The Decapolis

Jordan Cities: The Decapolis Last updated on Tuesday 20th April 2010

There are four Roman cities in Jordan, in addition to Jerash, which formed part of the Decapolis:

Pella in the north Jordan Valley is one of the largest and most important archaeological sites in the region. Situated on the banks of the Wadi Jirm, it contains buildings from the Roman, Byzantine and Islamic periods (2nd to 14th centuries AD), but archaeologists believe that it stands on top of a much older site, which has been inhabited since 5,000BC.

At present there are columns, a few buildings and a small amphitheatre to be seen, but Pella is still in the process of being excavated and archaeologists predict that when it is fully restored, it will be at least as large as Jerash.

Umm Qais is situated close to the Syrian border, about 19 miles (31km) northwest of the city of Irbid. Known as Gadara in the Bible, this ancient city has only been partially excavated. The ruins of three theatres have already been uncovered, together with an aqueduct, a temple and a colonnaded street.

Archaeologists are confident that these ruins, when fully excavated, will constitute a major city. A small museum contains artifacts from the area. An excellent view of the Sea of Galilee (Lake Tiberias) and the Golan Heights can be obtained from a vantage point at the top of one of the theatres.

A few kilometres downhill from the ruins are the thermal hot springs of ::I. Men and women are admitted at different times.

Abila is as yet unexcavated, but considerable remains of the city can be seen scattered about the landscape, on two adjacent hills.

The fourth Decapolis city is, of course, Amman, known in Roman times as Philadelphia.

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