meaning ten cities in Greek, consisted of ten Greco Roman cities in the
land of northern Jordan, Syria and Palestine.
One of these cities pella, a short drive north
of amman in the Jordan Valley. It is among the largest and most important
archaeological sites in the region. Most of the visible structures date
from the roman, Byzantine and Islamic periods (2nd to 14th Centuries A.D.)
and there is ample evidence of human occupation during the earlier Hellenistic,
Persian, Iron, Bronze, Chalcoltithic, Neolithic and paleolithic periods.
This huge, ancient city continues to be excavated, with evidence found
of inhabitants dating back as far as 10,000 years.
Of comparable importance among the Decapolis sites is Um
Qais, known in antiquity as Gadara, where the Ottoman Governor's
house has been restored and opened as a museum. Gadara commands magnificent
views over the northern Jordan Valley, the Sea of Galilee (Lake Tiberias),
the Yarmouk River gorge and the Golan Heights. On a clear day the snow
peak of Mount Heron is visible.
To the northeast of Gadara lies ancient Abila,
more rural than Jerash and Um Qais, where Roman temples, Byzantine churches
and early mosques lies amidst olive groves and wheat fields. Excavations
indicate that the site was inhabited 5,000 years ago in the Early Bronze
Age, and appears to have been continually used by man since then.
Contrasting sharply with the splendors of Jerash
and the other cities of the Decapolis is Um el Jimal
is one of the area's most impressive and eerie monuments of ancient civilizations.
The town is filled with the remains of many black basalt stone houses,
churches, a Roman barracks and a fort complex.
A short twenty minute drive west from Jerash, at the village of Ajlun,
is a remarkable 12th Century A.D. castle on an awesome mountain top, Qala'at
er Rabad. It was build in 1184 by Izzedine Usama, one of the generals
of Arab leader salah ed Din (saladin).
Nearer to Amman is Iraq el Amir, an antiquity
sit dating back to the visitor finds a carefully restored Hellenistic villa.