Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Roman theatre found at Hippos-Sussita

EXCAVATION: Archaeologists find vast pagan sanctuary outside Roman city in north Israel. Location of pagan cult site outside city walls of Hippos-Sussita suggests the primary purpose of the theater was to worship the gods, not entertain the masses (Ruth Schuster, Haaretz).
Archaeologists excavating the ancient Roman town of Hippos-Sussita in northern Israel have finally found the large theatre they'd been seeking for years. But based on its location outside town, they think the propylaea bathhouse-theater compound they discovered wasn't for entertainment, but for worship.

The ancients didn't have signs saying, "Line up here to adore Augustus." Building the tale of Hippos is like building a detective story, clue by clue, says Dr. Michael Eisenberg of Haifa University, head of the Hippos excavations project.

"First we found the Pan mask, in 2015," he says. "Then we found a monumental gate leading to what we surmised might be a site of worship. This year, in a single compound outside the city walls, we found a bathhouse and a theater."

The latest discoveries in Hippos-Sussita, which is within the Sussita Natural Park run by the Israel Nature and Parks Authority, were unveiled Monday at the annual conference of the Zinman Institute of Archaeology at Haifa University. At the conference, Eisenberg described the latest discoveries, including two burial grounds also located outside the city proper.

A long, detailed essay on the new discovery and on the site of Hippos-Sussita. It's a premium article, so read it soon before it goes behind the subscription wall.

The discovery of the Pan mask was noted here and of the monumental gate here. And follow the links in those posts for additional background on Hippos-Sussita.