The Southern Bathhouse of Antiochia Hippos

By Arleta Kowalewska

The ancient city of Antiochia Hippos, founded upon the crest of Mount Sussita, two kilometers east of the Sea of Galilee, was one of the cities of the Decapolis. As from year 2000, this Israeli national park has been excavated for a month every summer. The ongoing Hippos Excavation Project (from 2012 directed by Michael Eisenberg), of the Zinman Institute of Archaeology, University of Haifa, Israel, has unearthed a substantial part of the city center. For over ten seasons, one of the investigated areas of the site has been the Southern Bathhouse.

Aerial view of the southern slopes of Mount Sussita, with the Southern Bathhouse, and the forum visible above it (© Hippos Excavation Project).

The bathhouse was identified in 2005, during excavations of the fortifications of the southern wall of the city, consequently called the Southern Bathhouse. During the last two excavation seasons (2016 and 2017) the critical mass of data has been reached in order to reconstruct the plan of the bathhouse. The first publication in Hebrew (below) is about to be followed by a more detailed English version, in the meantime presented on the ASOR 2017 Meeting.

Hypocaust excavated in hall V (© Hippos Excavation Project).

The Southern Bathhouse is one of the three bathing complexes discovered in Antiochia Hippos. It was a middle-sized facility (estimated to 1050 m2), craftily constructed and luxurious, in many ways conventional, but in others unique. One of its most peculiar characteristics is the asymmetric plan, a result of adaptation of previously standing constructions and spatial constrain. As to the construction materials and techniques, the same ways as in other bathhouses of the Decapolis can be identified (basalt foundations, limestone ashlar walls and vaults, slab-made tubuli etc.).

The Southern Bathhouse functioned between the 2nd and the beginning of the 4th cent. AD, so it is one of the few bathhouses of the region that are not used into the Byzantine period.

Plan of the area with excavated halls of the bathhouse indicated (© Hippos Excavation Project).

References:


balneorient

L’identifiant « Balnéorient » regroupe deux des membres du projet éponyme, Th. Fournet (Ifpo) et B. Redon (HiSoMA), en charge de la mise en ligne des billets.
Ces derniers sont cependant souvent le fait d’autres participants au programme. Ils sont dans ce cas signalés comme auteur.

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