Abila in the Decapolis - History and Facts | History Hit

Abila in the Decapolis

Hobras, Irbid, Jordan

Abila is an ancient town in Jordan and one of the Decapolis, a federation of 10 Greco-Roman cities providing a defence of the eastern front of the Roman Empire.

Lily Johnson

13 Jul 2021
Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

About Abila in the Decapolis

Abila is an ancient town that, alongside Philadelphia, Gerasa, Pella, Gadara, Kanatha, Dion, Scythopolis and Damascus, made up part of the Decapolis. The Decapolis was a 10-city Greco-Roman federation southeast of the Sea of Galilee in Jordan, providing a strategic defence post protecting the eastern front of the Roman Empire.

Abila in the Decapolis history

Abila was first occupied in the Bronze Age around 6,000 years ago, and remained in use to approximately 1500.

The Decapolis is mentioned in the Bible numerous times, including in relation to Jesus and his ministry, indicating its importance in the area’s history. An earthquake in 747 AD turned much of the thriving city into rubble however.

Though the site fell to ruin, there have been some spectacular discoveries made there that indicate its long and fascinating history. Archaeologists have painstakingly uncovered Byzantine churches, a monastic complex from the early Islamic period, Roman baths, a theatre, temples used to worship Herakles, Tyche, and Athena, miles of subterranean water tunnels, aqueducts, megalithic columns, tombs, city gates and various municipal buildings.

Abila in the Decapolis today

Abila has been excavated extensively for almost 40 years, and remains one of the most exciting archaeological sites in the region for two reasons. Firstly so much is yet to be excavated, and secondly much of what the resident archaeologists wish to dig up is already visible from the surface, teasing them.

For visitors there is also much to see, including the impressive ruins of a number of Byzantine churches and a bath complex, while excavation programmes also run for volunteers.

Getting to Abila in the Decapolis

Abila in the Decapolis is located in Jordan, around 10 miles north of Irbid, and can be reached by following the 35 road from the city. It is close to the village of Quwayliba and on the bus from Irbid – ask the driver to drop you off at the ruins.

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