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Hyppos-Sussita in the Holy Land

One of the cities of the Decapolis, or Ten Cities, as mentioned in the New Testament and the site of two Byzantine churches, Hyppos (or Hippos) is undergoing major excavations on a mountain on the eastern side of the Sea of Galilee.

Between the third century BC and the seventh century AD, Hyppos was a Greco-Roman city with pagan temples and a non-Jewish population. Jesus traveled often to the Decapolis and the Gospels mention the region as a location of his ministry to the Gentiles.

The site is located near the modern Kibbutz Ein Gev.

History of Hyppos-Sussita in the Holy Land

hyppos, sussita, archaeology, golan, galileeHyppos was a walled city during the Roman era and controlled a small port facility on the lake. The city was named after the Greek word for horse because of the plateau on which it was built, because of its resemblance to a horse. Its Aramaic and Hebrew name, Sussita, also means horse, and its Arabic name, Qal'at el-Husn, means Fortress of the Horse.

By the 4th century, most of the city’s residents were probably Christian and at least five churches were built there. The city was destroyed by an earthquake in the year 749 and as never resettled.

In 1964, Sussita was declared a National Park and in 2004 the area around it including the site itself were declared a National Reserve. Following an archaeological survey conducted in 1999, excavations were begun and the 12th season of digging will continue in July 2010.

According to archaeologists, the main street of Hyppos was columned and traversed the city along its full length. A forum at the center of the city was flanked by a third-century temple, a bathhouse and a water reservoir underneath the square.

During the Byzantine period, a church was erected over the remains of the pagan temples, a deliberate gesture signifying Christianity’s triumph over Paganism. One church was paved with colorful mosaics and two Greek inscriptions. Another church, similar but smaller, revealed two burials, one in a limestone sarcophagus covered with a monolithic lid containing the bones of a 60-year-old woman.

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