Section: Archaeology
Topic: Archaeology

Raphana of the Decapolis and its successor Arpha - The search for an eminent Greco-Roman City

10.24072/pcjournal.201 - Peer Community Journal, Volume 2 (2022), article no. e75.

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This research paper presents a detailed analysis of ancient literature and archaeological and geographical research until the present day for an important ancient location in the southern part of Syria. This one had different names during the time: Raepta, Raphana of the Decapolis, and later Arpha or Arefa. Moreover, the paper offers a more plausible location where Raphana, a Decapolis city named by Pliny the Elder, can be located. Ar-Rafi’ah, located in modern-day Syria, lies at an important geostrategic position close to a strong well, which is known today as Bir Qassab. It is highly plausible that this is where the ancient city mentioned above was situated. It can be shown within the literature analysis and maps that, due to completely different interpretations and in spite of missing archaeological evidence, many hypothetical locations were included in previous scientific literature. However,  none of them fulfilled the requirements for the places described in the ancient literature. As a result, current well-researched literature provides the ancient Name of Raphana with question marks or even completely omits the name from listings or maps. Therefore, the last chapter focuses on the aforementioned unexplored and largely completely unknown location of Ar-Rafi’ah. In addition to a large main fortress and numerous probable civilian structures, an unusual accumulation of 11 new discovered auxiliary forts or “Stratopedon” can be proven in the presumed urban area. Remains of a Qanat and channel system clearly connected with this location can be detected over a length of more than 10km. Lastly, the shape of an extensive ruin inside the fortress city walls indicates a potential theatre or Odeon. Based on the geographical names that are still common today in the direct vicinity of localities, plains and way connections, the allocation becomes more and more plausible.

Published online:
DOI: 10.24072/pcjournal.201
Type: Research article
Kleb, Jens 1

1, Erfurt, Germany
License: CC-BY 4.0
Copyrights: The authors retain unrestricted copyrights and publishing rights
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Kleb, Jens. Raphana of the Decapolis and its successor Arpha - The search for an eminent Greco-Roman City. Peer Community Journal, Volume 2 (2022), article  no. e75. doi : 10.24072/pcjournal.201.

PCI peer reviews and recommendation, and links to data, scripts, code and supplementary information: 10.24072/pci.archaeo.100021

Conflict of interest of the recommender and peer reviewers:
The recommender in charge of the evaluation of the article and the reviewers declared that they have no conflict of interest (as defined in the code of conduct of PCI) with the authors or with the content of the article.

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