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SEPPHORIS 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., AJ 13.338). After the conquest of Palestine by Pompey in 64 B.C. it became the capital of one of the five new districts (AJ 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. 17.14), 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.


BIBLIOGRAPHY

L. Waterman et al., Preliminary Report of the Uniyersity of Michigan Excayations at Sepphoris (1937); F. M. Abel, GĂ©ographie de la Palestine II (1938) 305-6; M. Avi-Yonah, The Holy Land (1966) 84, 97, 110-11, 123, 135-38.

A. NEGEV

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  • Cross-references from this page (1):
    • Flavius Josephus, Jewish Antiquities, 13.338
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