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Monday, November 17, 2008

Revealing the Glories of Ancient Hippos


The relatively small area of this little city detracts nothing from the impressive architectural remains one beholds as the casual observer traverses its ancient streets. "Monumental" is the best word that comes to mind when describing this fortified Hellenistic-Roman style space and its commanding view of the surrounding countryside.

Known as the ancient city of
Hippos-Sussita, it is located on the east shore of the Sea of Galilee, on top of a flat, diamond shaped mountain, 350 m above the lake. Sussita, or as it was known by its Greek name, Antiochia-Hippos, was founded after 200 BC, when the Seleucids seized the Land of Israel from the Ptolemies. During the Roman Period Hippos belonged to the Decapolis, a group of ten cities which were regarded as centers of Greek culture in an area predominantly populated by Semitic peoples such as Jews, Aramaeans, Ituraeans, and Nabataeans.The cities of the Decapolis had much in common. Most were founded during the Hellenistic period and were given the encouragement and support of the Seleucid kings, who saw them as a counterweight to the kingdoms that lay to the west (the Hasmonaean Kingdom of Judaea) and to the east (the Nabataean kingdom). Most of the population in the cities was Hellenised and the citizens saw themselves as citizens of a polis in every respect.


The Project

The research of Hippos-Sussita is an international Israeli-Polish-American project collaboration co-directed by: Professor Arthur Segal from the Zinman Institute of Archaeology, University of Haifa; Professor Jolanta Mlynarczyk from the Research Centre for Mediterranean Archaeology, Polish Academy of Sci­ences; Dr. Mariusz Burdajewicz of the National Museum, Warsaw; Profes­sor Mark Schuler from Concordia University, St Paul, USA; and Mr. Michael Eisenberg, a PhD candidate from the Zinman Institute of Archaeology who serves as Professor's Segal assistant.
The objective of the expedition is to uncover the entire ancient city, the street network, the main public secular and religious buildings, as well as the domestic quarters. The expedition also hopes to sur­vey and excavate the two necropoleis located to the south and south-east of the city. The relationship between the city and the surrounding country­side will also be examined in future sea­sons, especially the area stretching between the city and the lake. Further, they plan to conduct a detailed survey of the lake's shore to establish the exact location of Hippos' port.


The 2009 Goals

During the summer of 2009 (July 5 --July 30), the team plans to:

  1. Continue the excavation of the Roman Monumental Arch area, east of the Hellenistic Compound;
  2. Reveal more of the Roman Monumental Building west of the Forum;
  3. Complete the documentation and preservation of the North West Church;
  4. Complete the excavation and preservation of the North East Church;
  5. Complete the excavation of the insula located between the North East Church and the Decumanus Maximus;
  6. Continue the excavation of the Roman Byzantine Bath located between the Forum and the southern city wall; and
  7. Continue the preservation treatment in all the sites exposed so far


The project directors are inviting students and volunteers from all over the world to come join them in this exciting long-term expedition. If you are interested, go to http://hippos.haifa.ac.il for more detailed information and to find out how to apply.

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