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.

Get full text PDF Peer reviewed and recommended by PCI

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 Artefacts.info, Erfurt, Germany
License: CC-BY 4.0
Copyrights: The authors retain unrestricted copyrights and publishing rights
@article{10_24072_pcjournal_201,
     author = {Kleb, Jens},
     title = {Raphana of the {Decapolis} and its successor {Arpha} - {The} search for an eminent {Greco-Roman} {City}},
     journal = {Peer Community Journal},
     eid = {e75},
     publisher = {Peer Community In},
     volume = {2},
     year = {2022},
     doi = {10.24072/pcjournal.201},
     url = {https://peercommunityjournal.org/articles/10.24072/pcjournal.201/}
}
TY  - JOUR
AU  - Kleb, Jens
TI  - Raphana of the Decapolis and its successor Arpha - The search for an eminent Greco-Roman City
JO  - Peer Community Journal
PY  - 2022
VL  - 2
PB  - Peer Community In
UR  - https://peercommunityjournal.org/articles/10.24072/pcjournal.201/
DO  - 10.24072/pcjournal.201
ID  - 10_24072_pcjournal_201
ER  - 
%0 Journal Article
%A Kleb, Jens
%T Raphana of the Decapolis and its successor Arpha - The search for an eminent Greco-Roman City
%J Peer Community Journal
%D 2022
%V 2
%I Peer Community In
%U https://peercommunityjournal.org/articles/10.24072/pcjournal.201/
%R 10.24072/pcjournal.201
%F 10_24072_pcjournal_201
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. https://peercommunityjournal.org/articles/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.

[1] Abel, F.-M. Géographie de la Palestine: 2 .- Géographie politique, les villes, Gabalda, 1938

[2] Abudanh, F.; Twaissi, S. The Qanat systems in the region of Udruh and Ma`an Research: Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research No. 360, BASOR, Volume 360 (2010), pp. 67-87

[3] Army Map Service Set: Levant Map: Damas: Sheet: NI 37-VII: Reprint of french Map 1938, 1941

[4] Army Map Service Set: Levant Map: Soueida: Sheet: NI 37-I, 1943

[5] Albright, W. F. Bronze Age Mounds of Northern Palestine and the Hauran: Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research No:19, BASOR, Volume 19 (1925), pp. 5-19

[6] Burton, R. F.; Drake, C. F. T. Unexplored Syria: Visits to the Libanus, the Tulúl el Safá, the Anti-Libanus, the Northern Libanus, and the 'Aláh: 244, Cambridge library collection. Travel, Middle East and Asia Minor, Cambridge University Press and publisher not identified, Cambridge and Place of publication not identified, 1872 | DOI

[7] Burckhardt, J. L. Travels in Syria and the Holy Land, J. Murray, London, 1822

[8] Bietenhard, H. Die Dekapolis von Pompeius bis Traian: Zeitschrift des Deutschen Palästina-Vereins: 79.1963, ZDPV, Volume 79 (1963), pp. 24-58

[9] Conder, C. R.; Kitchener, H. Sheet 7: PEF Map from the Ordnance Survey Office: Palestine Exploration Fund (The survey of Western Palestine), 1897-1925

[10] Calmet, A.; Taylor, C.; Wells, E. Calmet's great dictionary of the Holy Bible: Historical, critical, geographical, and etymological ... ; with an ample chronological table of the history of the Bible, Jewish calendar, tables of the Hebrew coins, weights and measures ... ; revised, corrected, and augmented, with an entirely new set of plates, Printed and sold by Samuel Etheridge Jun, Charlestown Mass., 1812

[11] Cagnat, R. L' année épigraphique, Bibliothèque archéologique et historique, puf, Presses Universitaires de France and Leroux, 1898

[12] Dussaud, R. Topographie historique de la Syrie antique et médiévale, Bibliothèque archéologique et historique, 4, Geuthner, Paris, 1927

[13] DuBois, M. S. Legio, Lulu Enterprises, Raleigh N.C., 2015

[14] The Roman eastern frontier and the Persian wars (AD 226-363): A documentary, Routledge, London and New York, 1991

[15] Fischer, H. Dschebel Hauran und die Benachbarten Eruptions-Gebiete: in ZDPV XII, Tafel VI, 1889

[16] Fernandez, A. Problemas de Topografia Palestinense, Liturgica Espaniola, Barcelona, 1936

[17] Fossey, D. Inscriptions de Syrie: No.55: Bulletin de correspondance hellénique, BCH, Volume Vol 21 (1897), pp. No-55

[18] France Armée; Armée du Levant Set: Levant, Sheet NAOUA: No. 50-L-20 Reprint: G.S.G.S. No.8061: (franz. /brit.), 1926-31 eng. Reprint 1952

[19] Furrer, K. Zur ostjordanischen Topographie: Zeitschrift des Deutschen Palästina-Vereins XIII, ZDPV, Volume 13 (1890), p. 199

[20] Fuller, M. J. Abila of the Decapolis: A Roman-Byzantine City in Transjordan, Anthropology, Washington (1987)

[21] Guthe, H. Die griechisch-römischen Städte des Ostjordanlandes, Das Land der Bibel, Hinrichs, Leipzig, 1918

[22] Geonames.org - http://www.geonames.org/170652/rif-dimashq.html Area Rif-Dimashq: Locality Ar Rafi'ah, 2019

[23] Geonames.org - http://www.geonames.org/165604/khirbat-ra-fah.html Khirbat Ra'fah, 2019

[24] Geographical Section General Staff Jerusalem-Damaskus-Syria: G.S.G.S. No. 2856: (brit.), 1918

[25] Geographical Section General Staff Syria, Jaffa-Damascus: G.S.G.S. No. 2321: (brit.), 1915

[26] Geographical Section General Staff Country between Damascus and Haifa: G.S.G.S. No. 2290: (brit.), 1907

[27] Generalstab UdSSR Gebiete Palästinas und Syrien: russische Generalstabskarte, Legende in kyrillischer Schrift: from Map Collection of the Library Univ. of California, 1980-1987

[28] Glueck, N. The other Side of the Jordan, 1970

[29] Harvard Univ http://maps.cga.harvard.edu/darmc/ Digital Atlas of Roman and Medival Civilizations- DARMC, 2019

[30] Gadara - Gerasa und die Dekapolis, Zaberns Bildbände zur Archäologie, Sonderbd, von Zabern, Mainz am Rhein, 2002

[31] Hyginus Gromaticus De munitionibus castrorum.

[32] Josephus, F. Flavius Josephus, Vita: Flavii Josephi Vita Ed. 1929

[33] Josephus, F. Flavius Josephus, De bello Judaico

[34] Josephus, F. Flavius Josephus, Jüdische Altertümer

[35] Junkkaala, E. Three Conquests of Canaan: A comparative study of two Egyptian military campaigns and Joshua 10-12 in the light of recent archaeological evidence: Zugl.: Åbo, Akad., Akad. avh., 2006, Åbo Akad. Förl, 2006

[36] Kiepert, H. Die Landschaften im Osten von Damascus (Haurân und die Trachonen): nach den Reisebeschreibungen Wetzsteins von 1858, 1860

[37] Kiepert, H. Karte von Palaestina: nach den neuesten Quellen vorzüglich nach den Robinsonschen Untersuchungen, 1842

[38] Kennedy, D.; Riley, D. Romeʹs desert frontier: From the air, Batsford 1.Ed., London, 1990

[39] Kennedy, D.; Bishop, M. Google Earth and the Archaeology of Saudi Arabia. A Case Study from the Jeddah Area., Journal of Archaeological Science 38, no. 6 (2011):1284–93, London, 2011 | DOI

[40] Kruse, F.; Seetzen, U. J. Commentare zu Ulrich Jasper Seetzen's Reisen durch Syrien, Palästina, Phönicien, die Transjordan-Länder, Arabia Petraea und Unter-Aegypten: Nebst sämmtlichen Original-Charten Seetzen's, von ihm selbst zu seiner Reise gezeichnet und auf seinen Wunsch vervollständigt durch Hinzufügung mehrerer Ortsnamen nach seinen Tagebüchern, so wie der alten Namen der zu bestimmenden Orte, Ulrich Jasper Seetzen's Reisen durch Syrien, Palästina, Phönicien, die Transjordan-Länder, Arabia Petraea und Unter-Aegypten, 4, Reimer, Berlin, 1859

[41] Kleb, J. An unexplored greek/roman Fortress City, with an unusual clustering of new discovered auxiliary Forts direct adjacent. First Research Results - a shortened and simplified Preprint 2018, Researchgate | DOI

[42] Kleb, J. Overview of the Location around the main Fortress with all until 2020 found visible remains, at the probably Location of Raepta - Raphana - Arpha, 2020 | DOI

[43] Kleb, J. Collection Table of 11 new discovered auxiliary forts or "stratopedon" in the direct vicinity of the Main Fortress with the suggested historical Names Raepta, Raphana, Arpha/Arefa, 2021 | DOI

[44] Kleb, J. Destructions and several Bomb Craters within the Fortress City Area. Satellite Images courtesy Google 2011-2016, 2021 | DOI

[45] Kleb, J. The roman Limes east of Damascus - german version, (Defense de Damas), 2021 | DOI

[46] Le Bohec, Y. Die römische Armee: Von Augustus zu Konstantin d. Gr: 171f, Steiner, Stuttgart, 1993

[47] Lightfoot, J.; Pitman, J. R. The Whole Works: The chorographic works, also seven Latin tracts, Bd. 10, Dove, 1823

[48] Lightfoot, D. R. Syrian Qanat Romani: Journal of arid environments: 33.1996 .-, Journal of arid environments (1996), pp. 321-336

[49] Lichtenberger, A. Die Baupolitik Herodes des Großen: ADPV 26: Abhandlungen des Deutschen Palästinavereins, Band: 26, Harrassowitz, 1999

[50] Lindner, M. Petra und das Königreich der Nabatäer, Delp, 1970

[51] Mommsen, T. Eine Inschrift des älteren Plinius, Hermes, Volume 19 (1884) no. 4, pp. 644-648

[52] Mittmann, S. Tübinger Bibelatlas: Auf der Grundlage des Tübinger Atlas des Vorderen Orients (TAVO), Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, Stuttgart, 2001

[53] Menochio, G. S.; de Tournemine, R. J. Commentarii Totius Sacrae Scripturae: Complectens Supplementum Tourneminii, Bd. 3, Remondini, 1758

[54] Meistermann, B. Nuveau Guide de Terre Sainte, Picard et Fils, Paris, 1907

[55] Notitia dignitatum Notitia dignitatum: Edition 1997, Bibliotheca scriptorvm Graecorvm et Romanorvm Tevbneriana, Teubner, Stutgardiae u.a.

[56] Noth, M. Review zu Abel F.-M. Zeitschrift des Deutschen Palästinavereins 63, ZDPV, Volume 63 (1940), pp. 229-232

[57] Piraud-Fournet, P. Maisons et palais de Bosra (iie siècle-viiie siècle apr. J.-C.), 351-376, 2014 | DOI

[58] Poidebard, A. La Trace de Rome dans le désert de Syrie: Le limes de Trajan à la conquête arabe. Recherches aériennes (1925 - 1932), Bibliothèque archéologique et historique, 18, Geuthner, Paris, 1934

[59] Plinius Secundus, G. Plinius maior, naturalis historia. Edition 1491, Blavis, Venedig and Venetiis

[60] Rocca, S. Herod's Judaea: Texts and Studies in Ancient Judaism 122, Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen, 2008

[61] Palästina und die südlich angrenzenden Länder: 3. Band; Tagebuch einer Reise im Jahre 1838 in Bezug auf die biblische Geographie, Verl. d. Buchh. d. Waisenhauses, Halle, 1842

[62] Palästina und die südlich angrenzenden Länder: 2. Band; Tagebuch einer Reise im Jahre 1838 in Bezug auf die biblische Geographie: 315-317, Verl. d. Buchh. d. Waisenhauses, Halle, 1841

[63] Radefeld, C. Palaestina: Meyers Handatlas No. 128, 1849

[64] Stübel, A. Dr. A. Stübel's Reise nach den Diret et-Tulul und Hauran 1882, ZDPV, Volume XII (1889), pp. 225-247

[65] Strabon The geography of Strabo: In eight volumes, The Loeb classical library, 241, Heinemann, London, Ed.1930

[66] Stoll, O. Römisches Heer und Gesellschaft: Gesammelte Beiträge 1991 - 1999, Mavors, Vol. 13, Steiner, Stuttgart, 2001

[67] STOA https://pleiades.stoa.org/places/678360 Raphon/Raphana: DARMC, R. Talbert, Sean Gillies, Tom Elliott, Jeffrey Becker

[68] Smith, W.; Wright, W. A. A Concise Dictionary of the Bible, J.Murray, London, 1875

[69] Shaliṭ, A.; Amir, J. König Herodes: Der Mann und sein Werk, Studia Judaica, 4, de Gruyter, Berlin, 1969

[70] Seinecke, L. C. F. W. Geschichte des Volkes Israel, Vandenhoeck und Ruprecht, Göttingen, 1884

[71] Schürer, E. Geschichte des jüdischen Volkes im Zeitalter Jesu Christi , 2.Aufl. .-, 1886

[72] Schumacher, G. Der Dscholan: Zeitschrift des Deutschen Palästina-Vereins IX, ZDPV, Volume 9 (1886), pp. 166-368

[73] Schumacher, G. Karte des Ostjordanlandes: Blatt B3C3, 1920

[74] Thomsen, P. Loca sancta: Verzeichnis der im 1. bis 6. Jahrhundert nach Christi erwähnten Ortschaften Palästinas mit besonderer Berücksichtigung der Lokalisierung der biblischen Stätten, Haupt, Halle/S., 1907

[75] Barrington atlas of the Greek and Roman world, Princeton Univ. Press, Princeton, 2000

[76] Tacitus Tacitus, Historien: lateinisch /deutsch, Universal-Bibliothek, 2721, Reclam, Stuttgart Ed.2003

[77] Trombley, F. R. Hellenic religion and Christianization: C. 370 - 529, Brill, Leiden, 1995

[78] USGS http://earthexplorer.usgs.gov USGS-EROS Archive, different declassified satellite imagery

[79] Vitale, M. Koinon Syrias: Priester, Gymnasiarchen und Metropoleis der Eparchien im kaiserzeitlichen Syrien, Beiträge zur alten Geschichte, Beihefte, neue Folge Band 20, Akad.-Verl., Berlin, 2013

[80] van de Velde, C. W. M. Map of the Holy Land: 2nd Edition, 1865

[81] Wilker, J. Für Rom und Jerusalem, Verl. Antike, Frankfurt a.M., 2007

[82] Wetzstein, J. G. Reisebericht über Hauran und die Trachonen: Nebst einem Anhange über die Sabäischen Denkmäler in Ostsyrien, Reimer, Berlin, 1860

[83] Wenning, R. Die Dekapolis und die Nabatäer: Zeitschrift des Deutschen Palästina-Vereins 110, ZDPV (1994) no. 110, pp. 1-35

[84] Weber, T.; Fournet, T. The Decapolis an Inventory: Recent Results and Future Perspectives (GPIA/DAI lecture series), 11.2015

[85] Waddington, W. H. Inscriptions grecques et latines de la Syrie recueillies et expiquees, Paris, 1870

[86] Zedler, J. H.; Ludewig, J. P. v.; Malachowsky, J.; Sysang, J. C. Grosses vollständiges Universal-Lexicon Aller Wissenschafften und Künste, Zedler, Leipzig and Halle, 1749

[87] Zwickel, W. Calwer Bibelatlas, Calwer Verl., Stuttgart, 2000

Cited by Sources: