Sites of Israel

Beit Shean

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Beit Shean

is a modern city incorporating a sprawling national park containing some of the remains of the Roman-Byzantine city that stood until the eight century. Located at the meeting point between the Jezreel Valley and the Jordan Valley the area is of extreme strategic importance, and for this reason there has been an important center here since the early bronze age, and an important city during the biblical period. During the Hellenistic age the city was renamed Scythopolis and was believed to have been founded by the Greek god Dionysus. The Greek city was destroyed by the Hasmoneans and rebuilt as a Roman city which became part of the Decapolis, a federation of 10 pagan cities in the area. During the Roman period the city flourished as an administrative center and became an important Christian town in the Byzantine period. With the Muslim conquest the city was renamed Beisan, and was destroyed during a huge earthquake in 749CE. The area was resettled with small towns or fortresses, but it wasn’t until the modern age that a major urban settlement re-emerged in the area.

The national park is extensive and includes a very impressive Roman theatre, cardo, and bathhouse. For those who wish, there are approximately 150 steps to the top of the tel; the origins of the city itself.


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