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  • Print publication year: 2005
  • Online publication date: September 2009

3 - The introduction of Greco-Roman architecture


At the dawn of the Roman era, Hellenism had made only limited inroads into Galilean culture. Over the next few centuries, however, Hellenistic and Roman architecture became more common in Galilee and elsewhere in Palestine. In this chapter, I will focus on the construction activity in the early decades of Rome's rule, from 63 BCE to the first revolt in 66–70 CE, devoting special attention to the roles of the early Roman governors and the Herodian client kings, especially Herod the Great and Herod Antipas.


Whether Pompey and the early governor Gabinius initiated a wave of Roman construction in Palestine is unclear. Pompey was well-known for sponsoring building projects elsewhere, such as a theater at Rome and the repair of the bouleuterion at Antioch. He had also founded and refounded numerous cities, especially in Asia Minor, though it is uncertain how much construction accompanied those foundations. In Palestine, however, he refounded (anaktizo) only one city, Gadara, an action that likely did involve building, since Josephus specifically says that the city had been destroyed by Jewish forces. Pompey also stripped other cities conquered by the Hasmoneans away from Jewish control. Josephus writes in War that Pompey “liberated from their rule all the towns … which they had not already razed to the ground, namely Hippos, Scythopolis, Pella, Samaria, Jamnia, Marisa, Azotus, and Arethusa … Gaza, Joppa, Dora, and … Straton's Tower.