BAR 37:01, Jan/Feb 2011
How many cities made up the league of Hellenized cities known as the Decapolis?
Answer: As many as 19
The Decapolis (Greek for “ten cities”) was a loosely aligned group of heavily Hellenized, Greek-speaking cities of Greco-Roman Palestine, located primarily in the northern Jordan River Valley and the fertile highlands of northern Transjordan. The only member city west of the Jordan was Beth-Shean (Scythopolis).
Tracing their roots to the colonial conquests of Alexander the Great and his Macedonian successors during the late fourth and third centuries B.C.E., the Decapolis cities became centers of Greek culture, architecture and learning. The cities were laid out and built to the highest Hellenistic standards, with paved, colonnaded streets and lavishly decorated theaters, temples, baths, marketplaces and hippodromes. Their impressive remains include some of the major archaeological sites of present-day Israel and Jordan, including Beth-Shean, Hippos/Sussita, Amman (Philadelphia) and Jerash (Gerasa).