later DIOCAESAREA (Saffuriyeh) Israel.
A town in lower Galilee, the capital of Galilee
before Tiberias took its place. It is mentioned for the
first time during the reign of Alexander Jannaeus, in
conjunction with the attack of Ptolemy Latyrus (Joseph.,
). After the conquest of Palestine by Pompey
in 64 B.C. it became the capital of one of the five new
14.91). After Herod's death the royal
palace of Sepphoris was looted, and Judah son of Hezekiah made it the capital of the Galilee (AJ
18.27). During the war against the Romans Sepphoris remained loyal to them, but after the destruction of the Second
Temple it became an important Jewish center and the
seat of the Sanhedrin, the supreme Jewish council, for
some time. Vespasian made it a polis, and Hadrian
changed its name to Diocaesarea (Hieron. Onom
the City of Zeus. According to the Notitia Dignitatum
it was a military center. Constantine the Great gave
permission to Joseph the Convert to build a church there.
Excavation on the acropolis has uncovered a Crusader
citadel, built mainly of Roman sarcophagi and stones
taken from Roman buildings. An earlier fortress was
found below the citadel, while remains of a basilica belong to the Byzantine period. Outside the town is a
Roman theater, partly excavated. It has a diameter of
ca. 30 m, and seated some 4-5000 spectators. The scaenae frons was 27 m long and 5.4 m deep. Also Roman are an aqueduct and a tunnel which was also part of the water system.
L. Waterman et al., Preliminary Report
of the Uniyersity of Michigan Excayations at Sepphoris
(1937); F. M. Abel, Géographie de la Palestine
305-6; M. Avi-Yonah, The Holy Land
(1966) 84, 97,
110-11, 123, 135-38.