Rome took control of Coele-Syria and Judea (and large areas of the eastern Mediterranean) from the Seleucids during which the Roman General Gnaeus Pompeius Magnus annexed Gadara. Recognising the cultural identity of Gadara and other Greek cities in the area he creates the Decapolis, a semi-autonomous group of Hellenic cities under Roman protection as a counter balance to nearby Jewish and Nabatean influence. Pompey’s freedman Demetrios was from Gadara and Pompey instigated a program of civic reconstruction in the city to repair the damage from the conflicts during Hasmonean and Nabatean control. Throughout the Roman and early Byzantine periods people within the Decapolis cities used a “Pompeian” calendar that numbered years from the foundation of the Decapolis.
Completion of Meleager of Gadara’s The Garland the first comprehensive anthology of Greek poetry. Meleager collated his and forty-six other poets, including Archilochus, Alcaeus, Anacreon, and Simonides into a single work and describes his arrangement of poems garland of flowers (or Anthologia in Greek) woven giving us the term "Anthology". Meleager describes Gadara as the “Athens of the East” a city of philosophers and poets.
Construction of the Qanat Turab aqueduct bridge across the elevation change between the settlement hill and the hills to the East allowing the aqueduct to bring water into the city more easily. The construction of the aqueduct bridge was probably in response to damage following the 31BCE earthquake and replaced the earlier less efficient syphon system previously used.
First Jewish-Roman War. The Roman general (and later emperor) Titus Flavius Vespasianus appointed by Emperor Nero to put down the revolt. Vespasian retook Gadara from Jewish forces. The historian Josephus says the citizens of Gadara helped capture the Jewish troops and then surrendered the city to Vespasian.
The destruction of the first Podium temple to Zeus coincides with this period and it is likely that it was destroyed during the fighting and rebuilt shortly afterwards. Gadara was returned to semi-autonomous status within the Decapolis and the size and importance of Gadara grew resulting in the first of several phases of major urban expansion westward onto the fan shaped basalt plateau.
Gadara’s city walls were extended to protect this large city expansion with a new western gate and the main street (decumanus maximus) was paved in local basalt.
The West slope of the original settlement hill was cleared and a large Terrace cut into the hill. The western side of the terrace was held up and buttressed by a row of vaulted rooms. These formed a row of Shops along the Cardo street. A large monumental set of steps onto the Decumanus Maximus was provided at the north end. A large rectangular market basilica building was built on the terrace from local basalt and limestone. In 1976 several pieces of the stone architrave from the building were found with a Greek inscription dating it’s construction to 203rd year after the foundation of the Decapolis. Little remains of the original Roman market basilica after the terrace was remodelled in the 5th century, however some of the building’s walls at the north end of the terrace were repurposed to create the Atrium of the Byzantine ecclesiastical complex.
Mid 2nd Century CE
The statue, carved in fine white marble was probably carved in Italy and depicts the goddess sat on a high throne holding a cornucopia. She was found by archaeologists in the West Theatre and was probably placed in the centre of the front row of seating (a place of honour).
Late 2nd Century CE
Rapid Urban expansion
During the Severan period (193 – 235CE) the city underwent a period of rapid urban development and prosperity. The construction of the west theatre at the end of the Terrace, the podium monument and the addition of the colonnaded side to the main street (decumanus maximus) date to this point. At the western end of the main street a large Hippodrome for chariot racing and other entertainment was built as well as a large monumental gate way constructed outside the walls as a symbol of the city’s importance.
Early 3rd Century
Completion of the Nymphaeum, a large shrine to the water nymphs which also functioned as a public water fountain and temple. The expansion of the civic monuments in Gadara was likely provided through the patronage of wealthy citizens, from a Greek inscription on a marble stone from the Nymphaeum we know that this building was paid for by a man named Aurelios Diophantos who was a city magistrate in Gadara. The water supply needed for the Nymphaeum indicates that it’s construction probably coincides with the completion of the Qanat Fir’aun aqueduct system 210 CE.
Longest aqueduct in the World!
Completion of construction work on the Qanat Fir’aun aqueduct system. The system of tunnels (started in 90CE) supplied between 40,000 to 60,000 cubic meters of water per day from numerous natural springs as well as a large dammed lake at Dille in Syria. The total system spread the 218m height difference over 170 km of tunnels, including a 106km section of tunnels, 2,900 access shafts and at least 14 secondary lines, including tributaries from lake Muzarib (Syria) and various natural springs. The system was the longest and most important hydro engineering achievements in the ancient world
Early Christian martyrs
Gadarene Christian deacon Zachaios was tortured and executed during the vicennalia of Diocletian at Antioch (the Roman empire’s last and largest persecution of Christians). His remains are believed to be one of the Martyrs remains returned to Gadara forming the basis for early Christian pilgrimage to the city.