It’s snout about the Romans


The sun sets on the Sea of Galilee.

In the distance, purple hills rise. Stories are found in their folds.

The large canyon in the center is the Wadi Yarmuk, the largest contributor to the Jordan River. Today the Yarmuk marks the political boundary between occupied Syria or the Golan Heights (on the left side of the image) and the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan (on the right side of the image).

In the time of Christ, these purple hills were both associated with Gentile domains. The remains of the Decapolis city of Gadara rest in the Jordanian city of Umm Qays. Umm Qays is marked on the far left by towers on the hillside.

Gadara figures into the story of the demoniac told in Mark 5. See the story here. Let me warn you ahead of time: it’s snout about the Roman legions.


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Feline fountain

In Jordan's fertile Wadi as-Seer is an amazing structure known as the Qasr al-Abd (Arab. "Castle of the Servant"). Many believe it was built around 200 BC by Hyrcanus, a Jerusalemite who fled to Transjordan and established a residence there. The structure is made of huge stones and is considered a rare display of Hellenistic architecture in the region. Its exterior walls are flanked by two lions that functioned as fountains. 

Ron Wakeman of the Madaba Plains Project photographs one of them.

River boundary

The Wadi Yarmuk winds for nearly 50 miles through the region of Transjordan. It drains the eastern tablelands known in the Hebrew Bible by names like Bashan and Gilead. Pictured here is the opening where the Yarmuk enters the Jordan Valley. Today, this watercourse marks the international boundary between occupied Syria (Golan Heights, Israel) and the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan.