Palestine Exploration Quarterly, 142, 1 (2010), 7–23
THE LOCATION OF TARICHAEA: NORTH OR SOUTH OF TIBERIAS?
The current consensus regarding the location of Tarichaea as lying north of Tiberias by the Sea of Galilee, and as being identical to one of two cities with the name MGDL known from Rabbinical sources, is based on the old opinion of Albright. However, this opinion had unfortunately side-stepped the primary evidence of Pliny the Elder and badly misinterpreted that of Josephus. A closer look at the Greek text of the Jewish historian reveals that Tarichaea could only have been located south of Tiberias. Vespasian’s approach to Tiberias, explained in geographical, geopolitical and military terms, shows the right direction, and the archaeologically established location of the hot spring called ‘Ammathō’ leaves no doubt. Further support is gained by an analysis of the information concerning the station ‘Sennabris’, the neglected outpost ‘Homonoia’, and the episode involving some youths from the village of Dabaritta. Any remains of Tarichaea — at the distance of ‘30 stadia’ (or just over 5.5 km) from Tiberias according to Josephus — should be sought 1 to 1.5 km north and north-west of Tel Bet Yerach, also the site of Hellenistic Philoteria.
It may safely be said that the question of the exact site of Taricheae [sic]1 is the most complicated topographical problem in Palestine. Few debates in the whole range of the science of historical geography have raged more hotly, with a greater ebb and flow of opinion.
This statement concerning the location of Tarichaea was made at the beginning of the 1920s by W. F. Albright, giant of biblical archaeology, while the town is never mentioned in the Bible (Albright 1921–1922, 29). Tarichaea in Lower Galilee and by the Sea of Galilee is known to us mainly due to the role it played during a short period in the life of the Jewish historian Josephus. He undertook, presumably, to induce some part of the local Jews who were in revolt to lay down their arms (Life 29), but inadvertently to organize resistance (Life 187–188), a few years before the Roman conquest of Jerusalem and the destruction of the Temple in 70 CE. Though the precise location of the town would seem an insignifi cant element in the complex political picture of the First Jewish Revolt, with its cultural and religious interactions between Jews, Hellenized Jews, non-Jews and Romans, the subject could lead to the opening of a can of worms. This paper thus will have to be limited, avoiding, among other issues, the discussion of regional historical geography (which affects principally the life of Jesus and Christian archaeology),2 and of absolute chronology (which affects the structure of the revolt itself).3 The aim here will only be to settle the question of whether Tarichaea stood ‘30 stadia’ (Jos., Life 137) north or south of the city of Tiberias — whatever the wider consequences may be.
Albright’s paper made reference to no less than 17 pioneers and scholars who had become enmeshed in the debate up to his own time: Robinson, Kiepert, De Saulcy, Guérin, Wilson, Kitchener, Conder, Furrer, Dechent, Spiess, Frei, Van Kasteren, Buhl, Schürer, Smith, Masterman, and Dalman.4 In concluding, Albright proved to his satisfaction that Tarichaea must be situated north of Tiberias, and be identical to MGDL, one of two towns by that name mentioned in the Talmud and later Rabbinical sources (e.g. y.Erub. 21d; b.Pes. 46a), and hence, presumably, the place after which Mary ‘Magdalene’ took her name in the Gospels (e.g. Mark 15.40), part of the territory which was eventually occupied by the Arab village of el-Mejdel (S.I.G. 198/247). According to Albright, it was Rabbinical Migdal.
Tsebaya (‘Dyer’s Tower’) that was identical to Tarichaea, lying about 7 km north of Tiberias and slightly beyond el-Mejdel, whereas Migdal Nuniya (‘Fish-Tower’) was also to be located north of Tiberias, but less than halfway to Tsebaya (c. 3 km), before ‘Wadi Abu el ‘Amis’ and on the shore below ‘Khirbet el-Quneitriyeh’ (Tel Raqqat, S.I.G. 200/246) (see Map 1).5 This was a turning point in the history of the subject, taken as a real solution to an old topographical problem. Hardly any voice has been raised since,6 and an approving literature has steadily grown up, even adducing new and, in effect, irrelevant archaeological evidence for the correctness of Albright’s opinion. The benefits of pious tourism followed.
TERICHAEA IN PLINY
It is at once surprising and ironical that, although the large majority of information about Tarichaea comes from Josephus, whose fi rst work, The Jewish War, was published in Rome sometime between 75 and 81 CE, the most direct ancient statement for the location of the town is to be found in Pliny’s Natural History, written contemporaneously in 77 CE. The Roman encyclopaedist explicitly says that the town was in the south of the Sea of Galilee: a meridie Tarichea (N.H. 5.71). So it is to be wondered on what basis Pliny could have been doubted. Critics pointed to the fact that in the same context, in reference to the Sea of Galilee (Lacus Genesar), Pliny refers to Bethsaida (Iulias) as due east (ab oriente), whereas it was located in the north, while immediately after, in reference to the Dead Sea (Lacus Asphaltites), he places Machaerus in the south (a meridie) instead of east (N.H. 5.72). But such criticism the location of tarichaea fails to take account of Pliny’s abstract geographical perspective. Certainly there are wider problems with the topography of the region in Pliny, as much as with the way he used different sources (see Kokkinos 2002, 722–726, 729–733), yet he cannot be accused of being inaccurate on one specific location by simple deduction from another. Each case has to be judged on its own merits after analysis. The location of Bethsaida is actually unknown — despite the current wishful identification with et-Tell, less than 1 km east of the modern course of the Jordan River (Arav and Freund 1995–2004). A more eastern location, around el-Huseiniya, around 4 km from the present Jordan (but arguably much closer to its ancient course), would make infinitely more sense of what we know about this town in Josephus and the Gospels (see provisionally Kokkinos 2008, 2–5, map 2). So when Pliny places Bethsaida on the same par with the Greek city of Hippus, which was indeed on the eastern side of the Sea of Galilee, he is not strictly wrong, in that Bethsaida would have been east of the Jordan on the north-eastern side of the Sea. By the same token Tarichaea was indeed on the same western side (ab occidente) as Tiberias, as Pliny says, but in the south — that is to say on the south-west of the Sea and west of the Jordan. In the case of Machaerus, the reference is to the Dead Sea as far as the wider borders of Judaea are concerned (cf. N.H. 5.73), taking into account Peraea which did not extend further south than the Arnon River (see Kokkinos forthcoming; cf. idem 2001). So both Callirrhoē and Machaerus were in the east towards Arabia (ab oriente Arabia), with the second being indeed south of the first, even if in a southerly position only about a third of the way along the length of the Sea. Qumran (spasmodically identified with the place where Pliny says that the gens sola of Essenes lived), Engedi and Masada were situated in the west (ab occidente) of the Dead Sea, in the right order again from north to south. Therefore it is unreasonable, by the normal standards of ancient geography, to criticize Pliny for the accuracy of the locations under consideration. All we can say is that his performance could have been better, but it is by no means bad!
Actually Pliny had every reason to be careful, particularly with regard to Tarichaea. No matter how strange it may sound, among the towns by the Sea of Galilee, Tarichaea was the most well known to the Romans due to the fortunes of history. During his first administration of Syria in 53–51 BCE (SVM, 247), C. Cassius Longinus took it by force enslaving ‘thirty thousand men’ according to Josephus (Ant. 14.120; War 1.180). Cassius returned there during his second administration in 44–42 bce (SVM, 249–250; cf. Schwartz 1997), and even wrote a letter to Cicero on 7 March 43 BCE, ex castris Taricheis (ad Fam., 12.11). Tarichaea must have been famous from the curing of fish carried out in its yards (Strabo 16.2.45), and from which its Greek name derived. No doubt pickled fish of high quality would have been exported to and consumed in Rome. The town, apart from this product, also had an abundance of trees, ‘resembling apple trees’ according to Strabo, the fruit of which could also have been exported.7 With the occupation of Tarichaea by the soldiers of Titus in 67 CE, a large number of Jewish fighters (out of some 6,700 reported dead overall — Jos., War 3.531), fled on boats and soon a fierce sea battle ensued. The casualties were so numerous that the water turned red according to the description by Josephus (War 3.529). Apparently this event was reckoned by the Romans to have been a great naval victory, so much so that imperial coins, minted in Rome, Tarraco and Lugdunum, commemorated it (cf. some doubts in Smallwood 1981, 309, n. 65). Victoria Navalis, with winged Nike standing on the prow of a ship, was advertised on coin issues of Vespasian, Titus and Domitian, while the father himself is shown wearing the corona navalis (Fig. 1:1–2; see Appendix I). This special crown must have been conferred on Vespasian at the Roman triumph of the Flavians in 71 CE (cf. Jos., War 7.124), in which we know that a part of the procession also had ‘a great number of ships’ on display (Jos., War 7.147; for the procession, see Millar 2005; cf. the Temple spoils in Yarden 1991). Suetonius (Tit. 4.3) marks Tarichaea together with Gamala, as urbes Iudaeae validissimae. Little doubt may remain as to whether Tarichaea would have been known enough to Pliny, whose main source for this part of his work was evidently C. Licinius Mucianus, the legatus Augusti pro praetore in Syria at the very time of the destruction of Tarichaea (Jos., War 4.32; B. W. Jones 1984, 35, 39; Da.browa 1998, 58–59), as has been argued elsewhere (Kokkinos 2002, 729–733).
THE APPROACH TO TIBERIAS IN JOSEPHUS
The testimony of Pliny about Tarichaea being to the south of Tiberias should have clinched the argument, preventing any further discussion. But Albright (and those who followed him)8 felt confident in presenting Josephus as being in disagreement with Pliny. This cannot be right. Albright’s analysis of Josephus’ text is grossly misleading. The initial passages to be recognized are War 3.445–448, which begin by explaining that the people of Tiberias were currently considering revolt (νεωτερίζειν), while those of Tarichaea had already taken to arms (ἀϕεστάναι). Accordingly, Vespasian decided first to approach Tiberias, in case pacification could still be achieved (διαλεχθησόμενον εἰρηνικὰ), and then march against Tarichaea, which was now in revolt. But to understand Vespasian’s approach to Tiberias in geographical, geopolitical and military terms, one has to look much earlier in the narrative.
Vespasian had naturally based his forces — the core of which were the two legions V Macedonica and X Fretensis — in Syrian territory: in the first instance at the capital Antioch (War 3.8), before moving south, in the early spring of 67 CE (cf. B. W. Jones 1989, 127, n. I; Levick 1999, 29–31), together with Agrippa II and his army (not to mention other auxiliary armies), through the Phoenician region to Tyre (Life 407) and then to Ptolemais (War 3.29). Here, eventually, Titus came from Alexandria to meet his father, bringing with him a third legion, XV Apollinaris (War 3.64–65). It was from Ptolemais, a Roman colonia founded at the end of Claudius’ reign, and the first of its kind anywhere south of Berytus (see Millar 1990, 23–26; Isaac 1992, 322–323), that Vespasian invaded the north-western border of Lower Galilee and established his first camp (War 3.127) — conceivably after reaching the large Plain of Asochis (Biq’at Bet Netofa; cf. Life 207), where the tribune Placidus had camped in advance before moving south to Sepphoris (War 3.59; cf. Life 411) (see Map 2). Vespasian’s aim at this juncture was the destruction of the strongholds along the northern border, and in preparation he led his huge army (nearly 60,000 men)9 in a parade of pure intimidation through the plain. The village of Garis (perhaps at Tel Hannaton, S.I.G. 174/244), less than 4 km from Sepphoris (Life 395), where Josephus and his men were at this time entrenched, evidently offered a good view (War 3.129). Josephus relates how in panic he fled quickly to Tiberias, although in his later account (Life 412) he chooses instead to remember that he had stood and engaged the Roman army before withdrawing directly to Jotapata. In any case, only after conquering Gabara (War 3.132), the strongest town furthest north on the border (conceivably at modern ‘Arraba — S.I.G. 182/250 — and thus within Lower Galilee),10 did Vespasian turn back west to deal now with Jotapata (Yodfat, Kh. Shifat, S.I.G. 176/248; Adan-Bayewitz and Aviam 1997; Aviam 2002).
A few days after the dramatic fall of this stronghold (described in Homeric terms — cf. Kopidakes 1986; Paul 1993), perhaps early in July 67 CE (1st of Panemos — War 3.339), and after the capture of Josephus, the future emperor decided to move his troops back to Ptolemais and then to Caesarea-on-sea (War 3.409). That is to say that, starting from Jotapata in the north-west of Lower Galilee, Vespasian followed a westerly direction towards the coast and then turned south. Not keeping to the coast, he evidently came down to Gaba, the military colony of Herod the Great, located by Josephus (Life 118) less than 4 km from Besara/Beth She‘arim (and thus probably at Kh. El-Harthiyeh, S.I.G. 160/236; Shatzman 1991, 85f.; TIRIP, 125; cf. Isaac 1992, 328–329 for Tel Shush, S.I.G. 163/224, but 10 km away). After Gaba, moving between the Kishon River and Mt Carmel, he entered the western end of the ‘Great Plain’ or Jezreel Valley,11 and then via the Megiddo pass (Caparcotna, later Legio — see Isaac and Roll 1982, 8–9; Roll 1996) proceeded south-west through Wadi Ara to Caesarea (see Map 2). There, after a kind of minor triumph, Vespasian ordered two of the legions (V and X) to be stationed locally, while he saw fit to move the third (XV) to Scythopolis in the east, in a quite different direction evidently back through Wadi Ara and the Jezreel Valley, so as not to burden the land of Caesarea for subsistence (War 3.410– 413; see now Mazor and Najjar 2007, 3–4).
This circular movement around the west and the south of Lower Galilee makes perfect sense in terms of moving safely, while sustaining a considerable army in this particular area at this particular time. Vespasian himself, after dealing briefly with the reduction of Joppa (War 3.417, 427), must have followed his third legion (XV) to Scythopolis, as he had been invited by King Agrippa II to his capital in the north, the pleasant city of Panias/Caesarea-Philippi/Neronias, for a rest of 20 days (War 3.443–444; Kokkinos 1998, 327; cf. Wilson 2004, 32–33; Ma‘oz 2007, 23). The way to reach Panias from Caesarea-on-sea in the circumstances then present was indeed via the Great Plain, along the south border of Lower Galilee, east to Scythopolis, and then crossing the Jordan and turning north, on the eastern side of the Sea of Galilee, via Hippus, all the way to Bethsaida and up to Panias. It was east of the Jordan that communication could now operate in relative safety, and certainly not west of the Jordan by crossing the entire Lower Galilee, which had yet to be fully pacified. This point will be seen clearly later when we examine the Dabaritta affair. It was at Panias that Vespasian made his plans for attacking Tiberias and Tarichaea (War 3.445).
To start from Tiberias was inevitable. The city, built as the new capital of Antipas back in 18 CE, was the most important in the region, and in effect Tarichaea and its territory depended on Tiberias. This is why the latter is reckoned to be the neighbour ( γείτων) of Scythopolis in the south, despite the presence of Tarichaea in between (War 3.446). Both, together with their villages, had been attached to the kingdom of Agrippa II in 55 ce, who thus gained the benefits of a significant part of Lower Galilee’s economy (Kokkinos 1998, 322; 2003, 172). Also, as mentioned above, unlike Tarichaea, Tiberias had yet to revolt in its entirety. To get to Tiberias, Vespasian first asked his son Titus to return to Caesarea-on-sea to fetch the two legions which had been stationed there and march them to Scythopolis, where the third had been left (War 3.446). He himself would soon meet the army at Scythopolis, no doubt by coming down again via Hippus and crossing the Jordan now from the east, from where he proceeded en masse towards Tiberias (War 3.447). In the description by Josephus, he encamped (στρατοπεδεύεται) 30 stadia away (ἀττὸ τριάκοντα οταδίων) at a station (σταθμòs) called Sennabris (Σενναβρìs), which was well visible (εὐσύνοπτοs) to those considering revolt (τοῖs νεωτερίζουσιν) in the city. But what route would Vespasian’s army have followed from Scythopolis to Tiberias and where would Sennabris be? This is the crux of the matter for the location of Tarichaea in Josephus’ narrative.
If Tarichaea was situated south of Tiberias, previous scholars could not understand how it would have been bypassed by the Romans, without being dealt with first, as it was currently up in arms. But the three legions would under no circumstances come up from Scythopolis directly to the southern end of the Sea of Galilee and through the narrow passage by the coast at Tarichaea! They would also avoid engaging with the Tarichaeans, while leaving the Tiberians beyond, free to join in should they so decide, being urged by the Roman aggression. The three legions would almost certainly have moved north-west over the Great Plain, passing to the north at some point east of Mt Itabyrion (Tabor),12 and heading directly to the large plateau that extends from the south-east of the double hill known as the ‘Horns of Hattin’ to the west of Mitspa (S.I.G. 192/244) (see Map 1). There was abundance of space here for the camp and excellent pasture for the horses, while the area commanded a view to the sea and Tiberias below to the east. This approximate area was also chosen over a millennium later by Salah el-Din el-Ayyubi (Saladin) to meet the Frankish army, also a large army of about 20,000 men, which he defeated on 4 July 1187 CE, before moving to Tiberias to accept the surrender of the fortress by Countess Eschiva (see Philips 2002, 121–137). The distance from Tiberias is over 5 km as the crow fl ies (depending on the exact location of the camp, as much as the limits of the ancient city), which translates very close to 30 stadia — in excellent agreement with Josephus.13 This is the area where ‘the station’ Sennabris will have been located and should be sought.
By contrast, Albright (1921–1922, 35–36, and n. 22 there) felt confident in identifying Sennabris with ‘some ruins on a low hill northwest of Kerak’ (Tel Bet Yerach in the southwest corner of the Sea of Galilee, S.I.G. 203/235), known in the late 19th century as ‘Sinn en-Nabrah’ according to the P.E.F. Survey of Western Palestine (1871–1878) (see S.W.P. 1, 368), despite the fact that he could find no Arab who had heard of this name before. This hill today is occupied by Kinneret-Qevutsa (see Map 3). Had such a place in the south been the σταθμòs of Josephus, it could by no means be εὐσύνοπτοs to the Tiberians, some 7.5 km to the north, hidden completely by the intervening hills! Nevertheless, that there was a medieval Arab village called ‘al-Sinnabra’, mentioned in 1224 CE by Yaqût al-Hamawi (Mu‘djam al-Buldân, vol. 3, 419=ed. F. Wüstenfeld), can hardly be disputed, and it could perhaps even be the same place (SNBR’Y) in which a Torah scroll is said to have been desecrated in 352 ce (y.Meg. 70a, 74a), but its precise location is unknown. Identification with the obscure ‘Sinn en-Nabrah’ of the P.E.F Survey is not possible, for Yaqût specifies that ‘al-Sinnabra’ was reached by crossing the Jordan (coming from the east) and moving up to a point on the western side of the Sea of Galilee, which was ‘opposite Afiq’ — that is to say opposite the town of Fiq (Apheca, S.I.G. 216/242) on the eastern side of the sea in the territory of Hippus. In such a latitude (see Map 2), the area indicated must be that of Tiberias, and indeed Yaqût gives the distance of ‘al-Sinnabra’ to Tiberias as being only ‘three miles’ in agreement with Josephus (see above, note 13). It may well then be Sennabris, as suggested here.
Thus it is Josephus that we must trust, if we want to locate the Sennabris of his own time, and as it happens he provides further information. In War 4.452–454 he describes the two mountain ranges that run parallel to the Jordan River from north to south — one to the west and one to the east of the river. The range to the west he extends from the territory of Scythopolis in the north to the region of the ‘Sodomites’ at the end of the Dead Sea in the south, while the range to the east from the territory of Julias (Bethsaida) in the north to the region of the ‘Somorites’ in the south, apparently beyond the end of the Dead Sea since it is said to border the land of Petra. Then in War 4.455, Josephus says that the area enclosed by these two ranges, which is cut through the middle by the river from north to south, is the famous Jordan Valley, and that this in itself extends from the village of Γινναβρὶs or Δενναβρὶs — reasonably emended to Σενναβρὶs — in the north, to the end of the Dead Sea in the south. Evidently this follows a north–south line approximately in the middle and west of the Valley, and approximately the entire length of it. But does this length mean to include or exclude the Sea of Galilee in the description by Josephus?
Having said previously that the mountain range to the west (enclosing the western side of the Valley) started only from the territory of Scythopolis, one might get the impression that Sennabris would have been situated somewhere north of Scythopolis, close to the bottom of the Sea of Galilee. Yet this is only an impression, and one which ignores the mountain range to the east (enclosing the eastern side of the Valley), which Josephus started from the territory of Julias (Bethsaida) in the north of the Sea. Luckily, Josephus adds that the length under discussion (that is from Sennabris to the end of the Dead Sea) includes both the length of the Sea of Galilee and that of the Dead Sea, measuring 1,200 stadia (War 4.456), which translates into 222 km. The real distance is indeed about 219 km as the crow fl ies (not knowing today the precise northern and southern points of the ancient shores of the two seas).
What does this tell us again about the location of Sennabris? It can certainly not have been situated at the southern end of the Sea of Galilee (the distance of which to the end of the Dead Sea is only around 198 km), but it must have been considerably further to the north — irrespective of the mountain range in the west which Josephus started only from the territory of Scythopolis. The fact that the ‘Great Plain’ or Jezreel Valley, in the mind of Josephus as we saw (see above, notes 11–12), does not only run west–east along the borders of southern Lower Galilee, but it also has notional extensions to the north (one off Gaba in the west, and one off Scythopolis in the east), indicates that Sennabris must have been at the northern end of the extension running from Scythopolis towards the ‘Horns of Hattin’.
TARICHAEA VIA AMMATHŌ
After receiving the submission of Tiberias by the elders (γηραιοὶ ) and royalists (προύχειν δοκοῦντεs , or in a word προύχoντεs = ‘privileged citizens’ in War 3.453, and εὐσχήμονεs = ‘well to do citizens’ in Life 32–33, where their Herodian attachment is revealed), who rushed to the Roman camp to seek the support of Agrippa II, and after the party of the Tiberians who had voted for revolt had fled to Tarichaea, Vespasian was ready to move his troops down by the sea. He sent ahead M. Ulpius Traianus (the father of the future emperor), who was the commander of legion X Fretensis (War 3.289), to the ‘ridge of the hill’ (ἀκρώρεια), from which the city below could be observed, to ascertain that it had indeed been pacified and that there were no suspicious movements (War 3.458). This ridge has had to be somewhere close to or on ‘Mt Berenice’, so-called spuriously today (Map 1) (see Hirschfeld 2004, 133, n. 1).
That Vespasian from the west descended around this hill,14 reaching first the southern limits of Tiberias, is made clear by Josephus (War 3.460), who says that because the open gates were not wide enough to receive a reasonable number of soldiers at one time, Vespasian ordered ‘part of the southern wall to be thrown down’ (παραρρῆξαι τοῦ κατὰ μεσημβρίαν τείχουs). A gate lying precisely on the southern wall, dating from the first century CE(Area C, Stratum V), was excavated in 1973–74 by Foerster (1993). Once Roman control had been formally established in the city, Vespasian continued his march, in order to take a strategic position ‘between (μεταξὺ) Tiberias and Tarichaea’ (War 3.462). It is the crucial evidence for the location of Tarichaea that the new camp of Vespasian was pitched at Αμμαθὼ Ammaqw (nominative feminine — as understood by its genitive τῆs’ Αμμαθοῦs in War 4.11; cf. Ant. 18.36),15 ‘the hot spring’ (πηγὴ θερμῶν ὑδάτων), which has again been discovered precisely south of Tiberias. The remains of Hammath Tiberias extended from the southern boundary of the ancient city up to the hot springs (al-Khammam), as proved by the excavations of 1961–63 by Dothan (1983). The distance from Tiberias to Hammath is mentioned later by R. Jeremiah as being one mile (t.Meg. 4.3; b.Meg. 2.2). Therefore, following Josephus’ account, Tarichaea must have been further south.
The southern location of Tarichaea is also proved by the location of another place which has been neglected, and which was in direct contact with Tiberias. Sometime before the initial invasion of the north-western border of Lower Galilee by Vespasian, described earlier, criticisms against Josephus had reached Jerusalem. The authorities there resorted to sending a special deputation to Galilee to evaluate his performance as general. This deputation ultimately caught up with Josephus in Tiberias. After a somewhat inconclusive meeting, Josephus departed for Tarichaea, leaving behind some of his associates to gather public opinion about him, and posted others to pass information down the line (Life 276). As the incoming news was discouraging, Josephus decided to return the following day, to be present in any subsequent discussions (Life 280). But his unexpected appearance made it awkward for the local authorities to carry out deliberations, now at the synagogue (ηροσευχὴ, and a pretext had to be found for Josephus to be removed temporarily. So a report was spread that Roman cavalry had been seen approaching the border (μεθόριοs) of Lower Galilee closest to Tiberias, at a place (τόποs) called Ομόνοια, which was ‘30 stadia’ away (Life 281) (see Map 1). It was then urged upon Josephus that he should hasten to the frontier to deal with the situation and defend their land. Even though he suspected the report, Josephus (Life 283) could not refuse to act. After checking at Homonoia and fi nding no enemy in sight, he returned to Tiberias, where in his absence accusations had already filled the air against him, and where further reports, in the form of false letters, had been produced referring to sightings of Roman units at four different points of the border of Lower Galilee (ἐν τῆ μεθορία τῆs Γαλιλαίαs) elsewhere in the territory (Life 285).
What happened next is not our concern here. But it is vital to note how instructive geographically are the comings and goings between Tiberias, Tarichaea and Homonoia, before the coming of the Romans. Had Tarichaea been ‘30 stadia’ (Life 137) to the north of Tiberias, Josephus could not have run ‘30 stadia’ (Life 281) from Tiberias to the border, unless the border concerned was in the south! This is of course impossible, since the Romans at this time were expected to arrive from the north (that is from Syria, either via Ptolemais or Panias), and since, in any case, such a distance to the south of Tiberias would simply clash with the location of Sennabris (‘30 stadia’ away — War 3.447), as advocated by Albright. It is clear that Tarichaea must have been in the south, and thus Homonoia lay ‘30 stadia’ north of Tiberias, where indeed was the expected border under discussion. By placing Homonoia in its natural place, we are also surely making a significant step against Albright’s theory about the existence in the fi rst century ce of both Magdalas north of Tiberias and never mentioned by Josephus (see above note 5). The distance of Homonoia from Tiberias, as given (just over 5.5 km, see above note 13), places it conveniently at the end of the narrow passage between the lake and the edge of Mt Arbel, looking north towards the fertile region of Gennesar, which was evidently beyond the northern border of Lower Galilee (see above, note 10).
THE DABARITTA AFFAIR
Further support can be gained from an episode involving some youths from the village of Dabaritta. When the Jewish revolt broke out, Agrippa II lost direct control over the eastern part of Lower Gaulanitis (centred around Gamala) and the eastern part of Lower Galilee (from Tiberias to Tarichaea), areas which had been under his jurisdiction. From that moment, the king’s men avoided crossing Galilee from north to south on the western side of the Sea. Traffic, whether commercial or military, made use of the road on the eastern side by Hippus, crossing the Jordan at Scythopolis and travelling through the Great Plain, along the southern border of Lower Galilee. Josephus records a case which not only demonstrates the use of this southern route, while showing that even here total safety was not guaranteed, but also indicates its relative proximity to Tarichaea.
A caravan connected to the king, making the journey through the Jezreel Valley, was attacked by an armed Jewish unit guarding the southern border (ἐν τῷ μεγάλῳ πεδίῳ καθεζομένων ϕνλάκων– War 2.595), and thus around the village of Xaloth or Exaloth (assumed to be Iksal, S.I.G. 180/231, but evidently further south, perhaps at Khirbet Kara, S.I.G. 185/222)16, which was the southernmost point of Lower Galilee and within the Valley according to Josephus (War 3.39; Life 227) (see Map 2). This unit, made up of young men from the village of Dabaritta (Daburiyya, S.I.G. 185/233) on the western slopes of Mt Itabyrion (Tabor), moved into the Great Plain and laid an ambush for the party of Ptolemy, the ἐπίτροποs of Agrippa II (War 2.595), or perhaps of Ptolemy’s wife (Life 126). Despite the differences in the two accounts by Josephus, it is clear that the young men took the entire baggage conveyed by the royal caravan, which, apart from rich vestments, included 500 or 600 pieces of gold (War 2.596). The booty needed four mules to carry away, and because such wealth could not easily be disposed of, it was brought to Josephus, the priest-cum-general of ‘Greater Galilee’, as he had been appointed officially by the Jerusalem authorities (War 2.568), or at least the most influential of ‘three’ such priests (Life 29; cf. 63, 73, 77).
The troublesome outcome of this affair is not important to discuss here. What is important to underline, however, is that the mules were driven directly to Tarichaea, where Josephus had his headquarters at this time (War 2.597; Life 127). If we take the position of Ha-More Hill (south of Mt Tabor) as a reference point, the distance to Tarichaea (if indeed it is also in the south) is 23 km north-east as the crow flies. By contrast, the distance to Magdala Nuniya (near el-Mejdel), where Albright placed Tarichaea, is another 14 km north as the crow flies, and past Tiberias! Considering what Josephus says about the diffi cult situation in which the young men found themselves, and their inability to act secretly (War 2.596, κρυϕὰ), would it not have been impossible that they could have paraded the stolen goods through the entire Lower Galilee from south to north, bypassing Tiberias, to get to Tarichaea? In fact the relative proximity of the area to Tarichaea, particularly Mt Tabor, being almost at the same latitude in the south, is also sensed in Josephus’ list of the places he fortified. At least in its version in the War (2.573), which clearly suggests some geographical sequence, the order of the places concerned from south to north is as follows: ‘the mount called Itabyrion, Tarichaea and Tiberias’.
TARICHAEA SOUTH OF TIBERIAS
The conclusion that Tarichaea, on any careful interpretation of Josephus and in full agreement with Pliny, was to be found in the south of the western side of the Sea of Galilee, raises finally the question of its exact location (see Map 3). Josephus gives the distance from Tiberias (like that of Homonoia, but in the opposite direction) as ‘30 stadia’ (Life 137), or just over 5.5 km (see above, note 13). Starting from the southern gate of ancient Tiberias, such a distance takes us down the coast to the region of modern Kinneret-Moshava, about 1 km north of Philoteria/Khirbet el-Kerak/Tel Bet Yerach (S.I.G. 203/235). It is then understandable that the early scholars criticized by Albright (for example Dalman) argued that Tarichaea should be identical to ‘Kerak’. But there are problems with this identifi cation.
First, the substantial archaeological site of Bet Yerach actually lay just to the east of the Jordan, as the course of the river has changed since antiquity (see Getzov 2006, figs 1.1, 5.1). Second, hardly any finds from the excavations in the northern part of the tell would seem to be attributed to the fi rst century ce (Hestrin 1993) — while the southern part, which has most of the Hellenistic material, seems to have died out in the second century bce (Getzov 2006, 155; cf. Tepper 1999, on an early basilica). Third, according to Josephus (War 3.464; cf. Life 156), Tarichaea was situated ‘under the hills’ (ὑπώρειοs οὐσα), as also noted by the revised Schürer (SVM 1.494–495, n. 44) — but without this meaning necessarily that the hills were in direct contact to the city. Bet Yerach is certainly too far from the hills, and yet there could have been a small gap between the hills and Tarichaea, as may be suggested by Josephus in the same passage. He says that, apart from the side looking towards the sea, all the other sides of Tarichaea were surrounded completely by defensive walls built by him (πάντοθευ ὑπὸ τοῦ’ Ιωσήπου τετείχιστο καρτερῶs).
So, while Bet Yerach as such cannot qualify, the area around Kinneret-Moshava, including west and south-west as far as Kinneret-Qevutsa (where Albright, as we saw, placed Sennabris), seems the best candidate for the location of Tarichaea. Such a location would not disagree with Josephus, who says in one place, that ‘I crossed over’ (διεπέρασα) by boat from Tarichaea to Hippus (Life 153), for the verb does not carry any precise direction; and, in any case, Josephus actually mentions ‘the frontiers of the Hippians’ (τὴν μεθόριον τῶν’ Ιππηνῶν), which could be either the southern or the northern part of the whole district. Neither would it disagree with Josephus (War 4.1–2) elsewhere, saying that from his establishment at Tarichaea, Gamala lay ‘across over the lake’ (ἃντικρυs ύπὲρ τὴν λίμνην), for such a statement always depends on the observer’s standpoint. From Tarichaea, looking to the north-east, Gamala would indeed have been directly on the other side of the lake.
In conclusion, any remains of Graeco-Roman Tarichaea should be sought up to 1.5 km north and north-west of Bet Yerach. A wall, still visible to the P.E.F. Survey of Western Palestine (1871–1878), which was thought to extend from Kinneret-Qevutsa towards Bet Yerach (Albright 1921–1922, 36), would need to be reconsidered. The same goes for the elaborate Roman stone-pipe aqueduct, reported by Dalman (Albright 1921–1922, 35; cf. Hestrin 1993, 257), which carried water to the area from Nahal Yavneel (Wadi Fejjas). Also, Josephus not only mentions Tarichaea’s walls and gates (War 2.635; Life 163), but the location of tarichaea 19 other buildings, such as a prison (War 2.641: δεσμωτήριον) and a hippodrome (War 2.599; Life 132: ἰππόρομοs). The latter would conceivably be somewhere in the plain (πεδίον) that existed in front of the northern wall of the city, across which the troops of Titus were deployed covering its whole length (War 3.487). This indeed inspires comparison with the topographical situation north of Kinneret-Moshava (see Map 3, with a suggested location based on features made out from an aerial photograph).
A final clue, and perhaps an acid test, for the precise location of Tarichaea is the relevant passage of Josephus. While the troops of Titus aligned themselves across the northern wall of Tarichaea, Vespasian sent 2,000 auxiliary archers (i.e. sagittarii, presumably of two miliariae units, cavalry and/or infantry) from Hammath Tiberias under the general command of Antonius Silo (presumably a praefectus alae or cohortis), to occupy the hill on the flank and beat off assistance from the ramparts to Jews fighting outside the wall (War 3.486). On the west side of Kinneret-Moshava, east of Poriyya, there is indeed a good observation point marked on the slopes of the hill (S.I.G. 202/236). From this point (32° 43p 18.40q N and 35° 33p 21.63q E), one would expect the arrows fired to have reached at least the western side of the north wall, and the northern side of the west wall of Tarichaea. What might their range have been? We know that ‘Scythian’ bows, as probably used by the Athenians, were not really effective at a range of ‘two stadia’ (Herod., 9.23; see McLeod 1965, 4), that is about 370 m. In the opinion of McLeod (1965, 8; 1972, 78) the effective range of ancient bowmen ‘extended at least 160–175 metres . . . and that 500 metres was an exceptional fl ight shot’. However, Josephus mentioned earlier that ‘Arabian’ archers had been employed successfully at the siege of Jotapata (War 3.168, 211),17 and we do not know the velocity of the Arabian bow. But if we assume a maximum flight of up to 300 m, shooting from an elevation, we may be making approximately the right guess for the distance between the hills and the western (north-western) wall of Tarichaea, and thus as to where the course of this wall may still be traced or found.
As an epilogue, it is worth highlighting briefly the final moments of Tarichaea. The Roman charges against the Jews, who had been gathered to fight outside the north wall, proved to be unstoppable, particularly the rush of the cavalry and the piercing of the lances. The plain was soon covered with corpses (War 3.489). Some retreating groups made it into the city, only to face the anger of a party who had stayed behind, having originally disapproved of such a war. The recriminations could be heard by Titus outside the wall, who thought that this was a good moment to continue the attack without a break. Improvising, he led his troops to the beach and, riding through the water around the eastern end of the north wall (since the side adjacent to the sea was the only unwalled one), he audaciously entered the city, spreading panic among the defenders on the ramparts, who quickly gave up their positions (War 3.498). As we have already seen at the beginning, a substantial number of the surviving Jews fled on boats, which culminated in a bloody sea battle (War 3.529), and which apparently was reckoned by the Romans to be a naval victory deserving numismatic commemoration (Fig. 1:1–2; see Appendix 1). Subsequently Vespasian, who had meanwhile arrived at Tarichaea, took his seat on a tribunal (βήυα) to decide on the future of the remaining population of the city, natives and immigrants alike (War 3.532) — presumably over 30,000 altogether (War 3.540). Most individuals were sold as slaves, some were executed, and a group of youths was sent to Corinth to work on Nero’s project on the opening of a canal. It was now late in September 67 ce, nearly three months after the fall of Jotapata and the capture of Josephus, and with the exception of a Jewish force still occupying Mt Tabor (War 4.1), Lower Galilee had been completely subjugated. The war was to continue in Lower Gaulanitis (centred at Gamala) and then Upper Galilee (centred at Gischala), but the pattern of victories, leading eventually to the spectacular fall of Jerusalem, had already been set.
APPENDIX 1: ‘VICTORIA NAVALIS’ COINS
For convenience, a list is given here of the several types of Flavian coins which apparently commemorate the naval victory in the Sea of Galilee, as they variously appear in volume 2 of Coins of the Roman Empire in the British Museum (Mattingly 1930). All issues, minted in Rome, Tarraco and Lugdunum, follow consular chronology between 71 and 78 CE:
Rome, 71 CE (COS III)=no. 597 (Pl. 23:7); no. 598; no. 599
Rome, 71 CE (COS III)=no. 616 (Pl. 23:15, rev. only); no. 617
Tarraco, 71 CE (COS III)=no. 792 (Pl. 36:9)
Lugdunum, 71 CE (COS III)=no. 809 (Pl. 38:7)
Lugdunum, 71 CE (COS III)=under no. 811 (Cohen 635)
Lugdunum, 72 CE (COS IIII)=under no. 819 (Cohen 636)
Rome, 73 CE (COS IIII CENS)=no. 666 (Pl. 26:11)
Rome, 74 CE (COS V)=under no. 705 (Cohen 638)
Rome, 77–78 CE (COS VIII)=under no. 740 (not in BM; cf. Cohen 639)
Lugdunum, 77–78 CE (COS VIII)=no. 852 (Pl. 41:5)
Rome, 72 CE (COS II)=under no. 645 (Cohen 387)
Rome, 73 CE (COS II CENS)=no. 677 (Pl. 27:6, rev. only)
Rome, 77–78 CE (COS VI)=under no. 742 (NC 1871)
Lugdunum, 77–78 CE (COS VI)=no. 870 (Pl. 42:4); no. 871; no. 872
Rome, 72 CE (COS DES II)=under no. 648 (ASFN 1884)
Rome, 73 CE (COS II)=under no. 695 (Cohen 637)
The various MSS readings of the name are Ταριχαία or Ταριχέα (both in the feminine singular; the latter failing orthography by expressing the sound of the diphthong ‘ai’), or Ταριχαίαι (in the feminine plural). Out of some 45 occurrences in the works of Josephus (see Schalit 1968, s.v.), the reading Ταριχέαι appears only in one case (Life 159), and given the known quality of the text of Life it should be marginalized. In Life 163 the same reading might also be thought to be implied by Ταριχεῶν, though the plural genitive here could refer to the people of the city — variously given as Ταριχαιάται (e.g. War 2.606), Ταριχεὼται (e.g. Life 143), or either Ταριχέοι or Ταριχεεὶs (Life 159). The only other place where Ταριχέαι is encountered is in Strabo (16.2.45), but it is a modern emendation! This minor reading has paradoxically now passed into the authority of TIRIP, 173. The correct name should be Tarich-aia or Tarich-aiai (like Plat-aia or Plat-aiai).
See Kokkinos 1980 (with the new introduction in the 4th reprint of 2007), where I have questioned the precise location of almost all Christian sites — holy towns, villages and sepulchres; I hope to be able to expand on this subject elsewhere.
See ‘Dating the First Jewish Revolt’ in Kokkinos 1998, 387–395, where I have doubted that the revolt could have begun later than ad 65.
Albright 1921–1922, 29–46. Most papers appeared in the pages of the Palestine Exploration Fund Quarterly Statement and the Zeitschrift des Deutschen Palästina-Vereins.
As said above, this is not the place to discuss New Testament historical geography, especially in the light of late sources whether Christian, Jewish or Arab, frequently co-influencing each other to wrong directions. Suffice it to say, contrary to Albright, that while ‘Migdal Nuniya’ in Rabbinical times (and a settlement of one of the 24 priestly courses known since epigraphically — e.g. Avi-Yonah 1964) would have been situated close to el-Mejdel (Corbo 1976; Manns 1976; Abu-Uqsa 2001), ‘Migdal Tsebaya’ would not even have been on this side of the lake. It is in the vicinity of the latter that Magdala of Jesus’ time would also have been located.
But most importantly see SVM, 494–495, n. 44; I myself, following the crowd, have failed in the past to assess this note correctly (Kokkinos 1998, 235, n. 106).
The fruit ‘resembling’ apple according to Strabo may have been similar to the type of apple called Phiriki (Turk. root) in Greece, which is considerably the location of tarichaea smaller in size, elongated in shape, light green in colour, with strong scent and sweet taste. Herod the Great, who was fond of apples, by contrast also imported from Cumae (see discussion in Kokkinos 2000, 82).
Primarily, see Avi-Yonah 1953, 96, fig. 1; Kopp 1963, 192; Har-El 1972, 125, fig. 1; Bar-Kochva 1974, 109, fi g. 1; Avi-Yonah 1977, 97; TIRIP, 173; Aviam 2004, 98. To his credit, however, note that in his 26th edition, Smith (1935, 453–454, n. 4) was still undecided, with a measure of preference towards the south. A. H. M. Jones (1971, 462, n. 64) abstained from discussion. As for the doubt expressed in SVM, see note 6 above. B. W. Jones (1984) shows Tarichaea in the south (map on p. 37) but without comment. Levick (1999), while showing Tarichaea in the south (her map 3), confusingly refers to it as lying in the north without following through the references she gives (218, n. 26).
There were 3 legions with the attachment of 23 infantry units (5 of which were from Caesarea), 6 cavalry (5 of which were from Syria and 1 from Caesarea), and the addition of 4 royal armies (Commagenian, Emesan, Herodian/Ituraean et al., Nabataean), etc. — War 3.64–69 (with some differences in Tac., Hist. 5.1 and Suet., Vesp. 4); see Kennedy 1983; cf. Speidel 1982/83; Kokkinos 1990, 129–130; Isaac 1992, 105–106.
Beyond Gabara and to the borders of Upper Galilee, lay Selame (Kh. Sellameh, S.I.G. 185/254, some 5 km north-east), which had also been fortifi ed by Josephus (War 2.573; Life 188). With the fall of Gabara, smaller Selame may have capitulated, if it was not attacked at the same time by Vespasian (War 3.134). In War 2.573 and Life 188 Josephus includes Βηρσαβὲ or Βηρσουβαὶ within Lower Galilee, which might suggest that its limits were much further to the north, but in War 3.39 he actually mentions Βηρσάβη as being itself the beginning of Upper Galilee. If Bersabe is correctly identified with Beersheba II (Kh. Abu esh-Shiba, S.I.G. 189/259; see Frankel et al. 2001, 32, no. 237), some 12 km north-east of Gabara, it would seem too north and on higher ground to be reckoned as belonging to Lower Galilee. The Rabbinical evidence (m.Shebi. 9.2) specifying ‘Kefar Hanania’ as the dividing point of the two Galilees, cannot be taken a priori as supporting a limit further to the north. The geopolitics were different in the 3rd century ce, and it is not even clear why Kafr ‘Inan (south of Beersheba II) should be preferred, let us say, to Deir Hanah (north of Gabara) as a possible location for ‘Kefar Hanania’ — despite the available archaeology which is currently clearer at Kafr ‘Inan (Adan-Bayewitz 1991; 1993, 83–150) than at Deir Hanah (Aviam 2004, 34), and despite the rendering of Deir Hanah as ‘monastery of John’ (while in Arabic John is ‘Yahya’). Moreover, there is nothing in Josephus to suggest that the northern limit of Lower Galilee, at least by the Sea of Galilee, went much further than Mt Arbel and its ‘caves’ (War 2.573; Life 188). In fact, the border was near a place called Homonoia, about 5.5 km north of Tiberias (see below). The fertile region of Gennhsa;r (War 3.516), further to the north, with its famous spring (phgh;; ) called Kafarnaoum (War 519–20), is not included in Lower Galilee, even though the frontier itself would have been near following the Gospels (e.g. Mark 2.1, 13 telwniv on). This is not the place to analyse the divisions of ‘Greater Galilee’ (to include Gaulanitis) through time, or to discuss Christian archaeology as said at the beginning.
In Josephus’ geographical perspective, the western end of Jezreel Valley could be said to have extended northwards all the way to Ptolemais, which is reckoned to be situated ‘at the entrance of the Great Plain’ (War 2.188).
In Josephus’ geographical perspective, this route was taken to be an extension of the Great Plain (War 4.54), similar to the one at the western end leading up to Ptolemais (see note 11). The two notional extensions leading north (one at the western and one at the eastern end of Jezreel Valley) could even be said to be linked in the north via the Plain of Asochis, thus in a way encircling Lower Galilee (cf. the confused comment in the Loeb edition under War 4.54).
A Greek pous was 30.83 cm, while 600 podai made up a stadion, thus the latter measured 184.98 m, which means that a distance of 30 stadia would be 5549.4 m, or just over 5.5 km (see Bantekas 1988, 40, tab. 3; cf. Broshi 1982, 379, n. 1; Freeman-Grenville et al. 2003, 175). A Roman stadium at 184.81 m would not make a big difference in a distance of 30 stadia, i.e. 5544.3 m. With such a distance in mind, Josephus may mean in practice ‘an hour’s march’, which was the equivalent of the ancient ‘parasang’ or about 5.5 km (Strabo 16.1.2; cf. Herod. 1.66). This also translates as less than 4 Roman miles (1480×4=5920 m), or closer to 3 Arab miles (1900×3=5700 m).
Possibly through a village called Bethmaus, which must have been west/north-west of Tiberias at a distance of ‘four stadia’ or less than 1 km away (Jos., Life 64, 67).
The gender of the name (feminine ‘Αμμαθὼ — like ‘Ερατὼ, Κλειὼ , etc.), as determined by its genitive τῆs‘ Αμμαθοῦs of third declension, matches in context the feminine noun πηγὴ (spring). In Ant. 18.36, the name ‘Αμμαθοῦs, also in the genitive (but without the article), is again evidently feminine matching the noun κώμη (village). The city in Syria called ‘ Αμάθη (feminine — see Ant. 7.107: τῆs ‘Αμάθηs in the genitive of first declension) had nevertheless a male founder, according to Josephus, ‘Αμάθουs (masculine — see Ant. 1.138). Similarly, the city in Peraea called ‘Αμάθοῦs (masculine — see Ant. 13.356: ‘ Αμαθοῦντα in the accusative of third declension, like Σελινοῦs) is also given as ‘ Αμαθαὶ (feminine plural) or ‘ Αμαθα (neuter plural — see Ant. 17.277: ‘ Αμάθοιs in the dative of second declension). Stephanus (s.v.) actually recognizes all three genders: [ὁ] and [ἡ] ‘ Αμαθοῦs on Cyprus (both masculine and feminine, given the respective genitives ‘Αμαθούντοs and ‘Αμαθούσηs ); [ ἡ] ‘ Αμάθη in Phoenicia (feminine singular) and [αἱ] ‘ Αμαθαἱ in Sicily (feminine plural); and even [τὰ] ‘ Αμαθα in Arabia (neuter plural). The double gender in the case of Amathous on Cyprus, is justifi edby Stephanus in that the city would have been named either after a legendary ‘son’ of Heracles, or the ‘mother’ of legendary King Cinyras.
The confusion between ‘Gabara’ and ‘Gabaroth’ in the received text of Josephus, which determines the location both of ‘Xaloth’ and ‘Sigoph’ (see Map 2), will have to be discussed elsewhere.
It is not clear whether the ‘Arabian’ archers at Jotapata came from the 23 cohortes and the 6 alae which were attached to the 3 legions, or from the 4 royal armies (see above, note 9; cf. Davies 1977, 269–270). But the latter should almost be certain, as Malchus ‘the Arab’ (Nabataean) apart from 1,000 cavalry had sent 5,000 infantry, ‘mainly bowmen’ (War 3.68).
‘Atiqot, 42, 9*–25*.
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