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The Official Website of A. Arjan - UMM QAIS
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The current and most widely-used name, Umm Qais, is Arabic for "Mother of Qais," a modified pronunciation and spelling of the Roman name Caius. The ancient name Gadara appears to be Semitic. It is still heard in Jedūr, which is associated with the ancient rock tombs, with sarcophagi, to the east of the present ruins. These tombs are closed by carved stone doors, and are used as storehouses for grain, and also as dwellings by the inhabitants. The place is not mentioned till later times.

After Herod's death it was joined to the province of Syria (4 BC)[1]. At the beginning of the Jewish revolt in 66 CE, the country around Gadara was laid waste[2]. The Gadarenes captured some of the boldest of the Jews, of whom several were put to death, and others imprisoned[3]. Some in the city surrendered themselves to Vespasian, who placed a garrison there[4]. The 2nd century AD Roman aqueduct to Gadara supplied drinking water through a 170 km long qanat. Its longest section running for 94 km underground, it is the longest known tunnel from ancient times to date[5]. Gadara continued to be a great and important city during ByzantineChristian times, and was long the seat of a bishop[6]. With the conquest of the Arabs, following the Battle of Yarmouk in 636, it came under Muslim rule. It was largely destroyed by an earthquake around 747 AD, and abandoned as a city.

Umm Qais answers the description given of Gadara by ancient writers. It was a strong fortress (Ant., XIII, iii, 3), near the Hieromax - i.e. Yarmuk (Pliny the Elder N H, xvi) - east of Tiberias and Scythopolis, on the top of a hill, 3 Roman miles from hot springs and baths called Amatha, to the north on the banks of the Hieromax. The narrow ridge on which the ruins lie extends east toward the Jordan from the uplands of Gilead, with the deep gorge of Wadi Yarmouk - Hieromax - on the north, and Wadi Arab on the south. The ridge drops gradually to the East, but falls steeply on the other three sides, so that the position was one of great strategic value and strength. The ancient walls may be traced in almost their entire circuit of 3 km. One of the great Roman roads ran eastward to Ḍer‛ah; and an aqueduct has been traced to the pool of Ḳhab, about 20 miles to the north of Ḍer‛ah. The ruins include those of two theaters, a temple, a basilica, and many important buildings, telling of a once great and splendid city. A paved street, with double colonnade, ran from east to west. The ruts worn in the pavement by the chariot wheels are still to be seen.

That there was a second Gadara seems certain, and it may be intended in some of the passages referred to above. It is probably represented by the modern Jedūr, not far from es-Salṭ (Buhl, Geographic des alten Palastina, 255; Guthe). Josephus gives Pella as the northern boundary of Peraea

This city is not named in Scripture, but the territory belonging to it is spoken of as χώρα τῶν Γαδαρηνῶν, chō̇ra tō̇n Gadarēnō̇n, “country of the Gadarenes” (Matthew 8:28). In the parallel passages (Mark 5:1; Luke 8:26, Luke 8:37) is written: χώρα τῶν Γερασηνῶν, chō̇ra tō̇n Gerasēnō̇n ("country of the Gerasenes”). Scholars debate which is the correct site of the miracle and modern translations have multiple readings of the Gospels. However, the earliest texts are very clear as to the original version of the synoptic Gospels. Upon close observation of the earliest Greek manuscripts, the Alexandrian texts, the original reading of Matthew is "in the region of the Gadarenes", and the original text of Mark and Luke is “in the country of the Gerasenes”. The earliest Greek manuscripts of Matthew, which precede the textual alteration made by Origen, locate the miracle to be within the “country of the Gadarenes” (Matt. 8:28). The Greek city of Gadara, was considered to belong to the larger region of Gerasa, though it still retained some local autonomy (Weber 1989: 9).

Umm Qais has become a popular tourist attraction, a frequent destination for day trips from the capital, Amman, roughly 110 kilometres (68 mi) to the south. It is popular not only because of the extensive ruins but because its position on a high hill near the northwestern corner of the country allows for panoramic views. The Sea of Galilee and Tiberias, Israel, are visible, and just across the valley of the Yarmouk River is the southern end of the Golan Heights, claimed by and recognized as Syria,[7] but under Israeli administration since the Six-Day War in 1967. The high mountains bordering Lebanon are visible in the distance on clear days.

Beit Rousan, formerly the home of the Ottoman governor of the area, has been converted into a museum, with exhibits of Byzantine-era church mosaics and Greek statues. It is part of the complex as well

 

 
 
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