An Important City You Never Heard of


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From the stage of the theater you can see down the main Cardo (main street) to the Tel, the hill that contains the other 15 cities in layers.
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This colonnaded street is 150 meters long. It was built by the Romans and renovated at the beginning of the Byzantine period (4th century CE).
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On either side of the Palladius Street (main street) were rows of shops whose facades were faced with marble. Having a shop on this main thoroughfare probably meant a prosperous business and consequently high rent.
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Inside the shops one can see remnants of pretty elaborate mosaic floors somewhat restored to their original glory.
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This cut out figure is meant to give a flavor of “life” in ancient Bet Shean. In the foreground of this picture you can see the stones of the Cardo.
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Exterior entrance to the theater.
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This is one of the best preserved Roman theaters with seating for 7000 built in the first century CE.
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The mass of these stones always begs the question of how they could have been transported and erected.
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One theory of how they were transported in this recreation of a two wheeled machine for moving blocks of stone.
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Since much of the city was destroyed in an earthquake there are many pieces that have not been put into place and you can see many of them lining the outside of the theater.
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Details carved into fragments from walls and capitals.
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My daughter Yael as Dionysos
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Steps leading up to what was a large Roman temple built in the 2nd century CE. It was destroyed during the Byzantine period though you can see that some of the corinthian columns remained. The facade contained four large columns supporting a 15 meter gabled roof.
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Some if the collapsed columns from the Roman temple that became uncovered in the earthquake of 749 CE.
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A public fountain of the 2nd century was remodeled in the 4th century. Water spilled into a pool situated in front of the structure, on the side facing the street. Decorative elements that have been found on the site but not quite identified may belong here.
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Evidence of the devastation from the earthquake of 749 CE that destroyed the city.
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More devastation and notice the size of the paving stones used for the main streets of the city.
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Mosaic floor that leads to the bathhouse. We were surprised that they allow visitors to walk on these ancient stones. I guess they are not as delicate as you might think.
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Built in Roman times and renovated in Byzantine times the bathhouse is quite well preserved. The cylinders that you see supported a floor that would have retained heated water pumped in from below. The fires were kept going by slaves outside the building.
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Bronze plaque recreating the tools of the bathhouse (left to right clockwise): oil flask, pair of strigils for scraping the oil from the skin, pouring dishes (patter) used for splashing cold water over the body to open pores after the heat of the bath, toiletry set for personal hygiene: ear scoop and nail cleaner.
A view down the valley towards Lake Tiberius.
A view down the valley towards Lake Tiberius.
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Final view overlooking Bet Shean. One would never guess from the 106 degree temperature it was and how dry it all seems that there is lots of water in the area. More about that in the next blog post.

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