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PHILADELPHIA (Amman) Jordan.

Town E of the Jordan which received a Macedonian settlement and the name of Philadelphia from Ptolemy II Philadelphos (285-246 B.C.). In the 2d c. B.C. it passed under Seleucid control and in the 1st c. B.C., liberated by Pompey, it was one of the main cities of the Decapolis. In the 2d c. A.D. Philadelphia was incorporated into the Roman province of Arabia.

The ancient town, along a wadi, is mostly covered by the modern city. The citadel stands on a long steep hill to the N; the acropolis, a theater, and a nymphaeum are the principal remains of the Hellenistic and Roman periods.

The main artery was a long avenue with a colonnade on each side on the N bank of the wadi, which was channeled and covered by vaulting as it passed through the town. To the E was the entrance to the town, a monumental gate with three bays; a splendid tomb once stood near it. To the W another colonnaded avenue, at right angles to the first, ran NW. The public baths were near the crossroads to the N. Remains of a large nymphaeum with three apses, of the 2d or 3d c. A.D., lie to the S: the facade had a portico with tall Corinthian columns and three semicircular frontoni siriachi under triangular pediments, while the back wall was decorated with superimposed niches, the lower ones under segmental pediments, the upper niches under triangular ones. A building to the SW has very similar niches and may belong to the same group of buildings. The apse of the building to the SW was reused in a Christian church.

On the S bank a theater of the 2d c. A.D. is cut into a hill facing the citadel. Its hemicycle is open to the N and has three stories of 13, 14, and 16 tiers of seats; it is crowned by a portico and a high supporting wall with a large axial exedra. Access to the orchestra was by vaulted side corridors under the tiers of seats. All that remains are the foundations of the stage, the scaenae frons, and the wall of the exterior facade. A large trapezoidal space extended in front of the theater. Eight columns of the S portico are standing, four smaller columns of the N portico and, on the E side, a fairly well-preserved odeum, which was part of the theater complex.

The citadel has three terraces from E to W, with supporting walls of fine masonry. The N front of the acropolis is partly of Seleucid, partly of Roman date, and is a good example of ancient fortifications. The large W terrace had a monumental gate to the S, at the end of the stairways from the lower town; propylaea to the stairways have been identified beside the colonnaded avenue. The ruins of a large temple of Hercules, dated by an inscription to the reign of Marcus Aurelius, stand on the SE corner of the citadel, dominating the town. Its Corinthian columns were more than 9 m high. A gigantic statue of Hercules (pieces of which have been found) stood next to the temple. A wall adorned with conch niches runs along part of the very high terrace. At the N end, the ruins of another Roman structure can be seen beyond Byzantine or Omayyad buildings.


L. de Laborde et Dinant, Voyage de l'Arabie Petrée (1830); R. E. Brunnow & A. v. Domaszewski, Die Provincia Arabia II (1905); H. C. Butler, PAES II, Architecture, Sec. A, Southern Syria (1916); E. Frézouls, “Les théâtres romains de Syrie,” Syria 26 (1959); 28 (1961)I; G. L. Harding, The Antiquities of Jordan (1960).


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