( Jerash )

Jerash (Arabic: جرش Ǧaraš; Greek: Γέρασα, romanized: Gérasa; Attic Greek: [gérasa], Koine Greek: [ˈgerasa]) is a city in northern Jordan. The city is the administrative center of the Jerash Governorate, and has a population of 50,745 as of 2015. It is located 48 kilometres (30 mi) north of the capital city Amman.

The earliest evidence of settlement in Jerash is in a Neolithic site known as Tal Abu Sowan, where rare human remains dating to around 7500 BC were uncovered...Read more

Jerash (Arabic: جرش Ǧaraš; Greek: Γέρασα, romanized: Gérasa; Attic Greek: [gérasa], Koine Greek: [ˈgerasa]) is a city in northern Jordan. The city is the administrative center of the Jerash Governorate, and has a population of 50,745 as of 2015. It is located 48 kilometres (30 mi) north of the capital city Amman.

The earliest evidence of settlement in Jerash is in a Neolithic site known as Tal Abu Sowan, where rare human remains dating to around 7500 BC were uncovered. Jerash flourished during the Greek, Hellenistic, Roman, and Byzantine periods until the mid-eighth century CE, when the 749 Galilee earthquake destroyed large parts of it, while subsequent earthquakes contributed to additional destruction. However, in the year 1120, Zahir ad-Din Toghtekin, atabeg of Damascus ordered a garrison of forty men to build up a fort in an unknown site of the ruins of the ancient city, likely the highest spot of the city walls in the north-eastern hills. It was captured in 1121 by Baldwin II, King of Jerusalem, and utterly destroyed. Then, the Crusaders immediately abandoned Jerash and withdrew to Sakib (Seecip); the eastern border of the settlement.

Jerash was then deserted until it reappeared in the historical record at the beginning of Ottoman rule in the area during the early 16th century. In the census of 1596, it had a population of 12 Muslim households. However, archaeologists found a small Mamluk hamlet in the Northwest Quarter which indicates that Jerash was resettled before the Ottoman era. The excavations conducted since 2011 have shed light on the Middle Islamic period as recent discoveries have uncovered a large concentration of Middle Islamic/Mamluk structures and pottery. The ancient city has been gradually revealed through a series of excavations which commenced in 1925, and continue to this day.

Jerash today is home to one of the best preserved Greco-Roman cities, which earned it the nickname of "Pompeii of the Middle East". Approximately 330,000 visitors arrived in Jerash in 2018, making it one of the most visited sites in Jordan. The city hosts the Jerash Festival, one of the leading cultural events in the Middle East that attracts tens of thousands of visitors every year.

Neolithic age
The Oval Forum and Cardo Maximus in ancient Jerash

Archaeologists have found ruins of settlements dating back to the Neolithic Age. Moreover, in August 2015, an archaeological excavation team from the University of Jordan unearthed two human skulls that date back to the Neolithic period (7500–5500 BC) at a site in Jerash, which forms solid evidence of inhabitance of Jordan in that period especially with the existence of 'Ain Ghazal Neolithic settlement in Amman. The importance of the discovery lies in the rarity of the skulls, as archaeologists estimate that a maximum of 12 sites across the world contain similar human remains.[1]

Bronze age

Evidence of settlements dating to the Bronze Age (3200 BC – 1200 BC) have been found in the region.[2][3][4]

Hellenistic period

Jerash is the site of the ruins of the Greek city of Gerasa, also referred to as Antioch on the Golden River.[5][6] Ancient Greek inscriptions from the city support that the city was founded by Alexander the Great and his general Perdiccas, who allegedly settled aged Macedonian soldiers there during the spring of 331 BC, when he left Egypt and crossed Syria on route to Mesopotamia. However, other sources, namely the city's former name of "Antioch on the Chrysorrhoas, point to a founding by Seleucid King Antioch IV, while still others attribute the founding to Ptolemy II of Egypt.[7]

Ancient Jerash against the backdrop of the modern city
Roman period
Colonnaded Street

After the Roman conquest in 63 BC, Jerash and the land surrounding it were annexed to the Roman province of Arabia Patraea, and later joined the Decapolis league of cities. The historian Josephus mentions the city as being principally inhabited by Syrians, and also having a small Jewish community.[8] In AD 106, Jerash was absorbed into the Roman province of Arabia, which included the cities of Philadelphia (modern day Amman), Petra and Bostra. The Romans ensured security and peace in this area, which enabled its people to devote their efforts and time to economic development and encouraged civic building activity.[9]

Jerash is considered one of the largest and most well-preserved sites of Greek and Roman architecture in the world outside Italy.[10] And is sometimes misleadingly referred to as the "Pompeii of the Middle East" or of Asia, referring to its size, extent of excavation and level of preservation.

Jerash was the birthplace of the mathematician Nicomachus of Gerasa (Greek: Νικόμαχος) (c. 60 – c. 120 AD).[11]

In the second half of the 1st century AD, the city of Jerash achieved great prosperity. In AD 106, the Emperor Trajan constructed roads throughout the province, and more trade came to Jerash. The Emperor Hadrian visited Jerash in AD 129–130. The triumphal arch (or Arch of Hadrian) was built to celebrate his visit.[7]

Byzantine period
Map of the Decapolis showing the location of Gerasa (Jerash)

The city finally reached a size of about 80 ha (200 acres) within its walls.[12] Beneath the foundations of a Byzantine church that was built in Jerash in AD 530 there was discovered a mosaic floor with ancient Greek and Hebrew-Aramaic inscriptions. The presence of the Hebrew-Aramaic script has led scholars to think that the place was formerly a synagogue, before being converted into a church.[13] Jerash was invaded by the Persian Sassanids in AD 614. Few years later, the Byzantine army was defeated in the Battle of the Yarmuk by the invading Muslim forces and these territories became part of the Rashidun Caliphate.

Early Muslim period

The city flourished during the Umayyad Caliphate. It had numerous shops and issued coins with the mint named "Jerash" in Arabic. It was also a center for ceramic manufacture; molded ceramic lamps had Arabic inscriptions that showed the potter's name and Jerash as the place of manufacture. The large mosque and several churches that continued to be used as places of worship, indicated that during the Umayyad period Jerash had a sizable Muslim community that co-existed with the Christians.[14] In CE 749, a devastating earthquake destroyed much of Jerash and its surroundings.

Crusader period

In the early 12th century a fortress was built by a garrison stationed in the area by the Zahir ad-Din Toghtekin, atabeg of Damascus. Baldwin II, King of Jerusalem, captured and burned the fortress in 1121–1122 CE. Although the site of the fortification has often been identified with the ruins of the temple of Artemis, there is no evidence of the creation of a fortification in the temple in the 12th century. The location of this fort is probably to be found at the highest point of the city walls, in the north-eastern hills.[15]

Mid to Late Muslim period

Small settlements continued in Jerash during the Mamluk Sultanate, and Ottoman periods. This occurred particularly in the Northwest Quarter and around the Temple of Zeus, where several Islamic Mamluk domestic structures have now been excavated.[citation needed]

In 1596, during the Ottoman era, Jerash was noted in the census as Jaras, being located in the nahiya of Bani Ilwan in the liwa of Ajloun. It had a population of 12 Muslim households. They paid a fixed tax-rate of 25% on various agricultural products, including wheat, barley, olive trees/fruit trees, goats and beehives, in addition to occasional revenues and a press for olive oil/grape syrup; a total of 6,000 akçe.[16]

In 1838 Jerash was noted as a ruin.[17]

^ "Two human skulls dating back to Neolithic period unearthed in Jerash". 15 August 2015. Retrieved 24 November 2016. ^ McGovern, Patrick E.; Brown, Robin (1986). Late Bronze & Early Iron Ages of Central. UPenn Museum of Archaeology. p. 6. ISBN 978-0-934718-75-2. ^ Nigro, Lorenzo (2008). An Early Bronze Age Fortified Town in North-Central Jordan. Preliminary Report of the First Season of Excavations (2005). Lorenzo Nigro. p. 52. ISBN 978-88-88438-05-4. ^ Steiner, Margreet L.; Killebrew, Ann E. (2014). "Main Settlements of the North Jordan Uplands". The Oxford Handbook of the Archaeology of the Levant: c. 8000–332 BCE. OUP Oxford. ISBN 978-0-19-166255-3. ^ McEvedy, Colin (2011). Cities of the Classical World: An Atlas and Gazetteer of 120 Centres of Ancient Civilization. UK: Penguin. ISBN 978-0141967639. ^ Cite error: The named reference :0 was invoked but never defined (see the help page). ^ a b "Jerash - A Brief History". المشرق. Retrieved 7 March 2018. ^ Josephus, De Bello Judaico (Wars of the Jews) II, 457 (Wars of the Jews 2.18.1) and De Bello Judaico (Wars of the Jews) II, 477 (Wars of the Jews 2.18.5. ^ Borgia, E. (2002). Jordan: Past and Present: Petra, Jerash, Amman. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ^ Cite error: The named reference :3 was invoked but never defined (see the help page). ^ Taran, L. (1970). "Nicomachus of Gerasa". In Gillispie, Charles C. (ed.). Dictionary of Scientific Biography (1st ed.). New York: Charles Scribner's Sons. ISBN 9780684101149. ^ Bryce, Trevor (2016). Atlas of the Ancient Near East: From Prehistoric Times to the Roman Imperial Period. Abingdon: Routledge. ISBN 9781317562092. ^ Samuel Klein, Sefer ha-Yishuv, vol. 1, Jerusalem 1939, p. 34 and folio "chet" on pp. 40–41, and which inscription reads: שלום על כל ישראל אמן סלה פינחס בר ברוך יוסה בר שמואל וי(ו)דן בר חזקיה; Crowfoot-Hamilton, "The Discovery of a Synagogue at Jerash": PEF, Quarterly Statement, 1929; Sukenik, Note on the Aramaic; A. Barrois, Découverte d’une synagogue à Djérash, Rev. Bibl. 39 (1930), p. 261. pl. xi p. 259 (pl. ix) ^ Bisheh, Ghazi (2017). "Jarash (Gerasa) in Discover Islamic Art, Museum With No Frontiers, 2017". www.discoverislamicart.org. ^ Pierobon, Raffaella (1983), Guglielmo di Tiro e il castrum di Gerasa, Prospettive Settanta, 5, pp. 8–13 ^ Hütteroth and Abdulfattah, 1977, p. 164 ^ Smith, in Robinson and Smith, 1841, vol 3, 2nd appendix, p. 167
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