Roman Nymphaeum

The Nymphaeum was both a public fountain and a shrine to the water nymphs, the Greco-Roman goddesses of water, lakes and rivers. It’s significance in Roman Gadara is clear from it’s size, the elaborate decoration and it’s prominent location in the city on the Decumanus Maximus main street, facing the wide monumental steps to the terrace.

 

It was built in the second half of the 2nd Century CE and an inscription on a marble block found nearby by archaeologists in 1998 suggests that the Nymphaeum and it’s statues were donated to the city by Aurelios Diophates, an ‘astynomos’ or city magistrate responsible for public buildings in the city.

The central part of the Nymphaeum was a large semi-circular space decorated with marble, columns and niches containing marble statues of the nymphs and probably covered with an ornate half dome. Within this semi-circular space was a large pool of water, contained by the front wall onto the Decumanus street into which several semi-circular water fountain niches were built.

nymphaeum marble.jpg

"Decorative piece next to the Nymphaeum" ©UmmQaisHeritage

The large pieces of marble lying on the street in front of the Nymphaeum were once part of the decoration for the upper parts of the monument, possibly forming the base of the half dome over the central pool. They are elaborately carved with vines, leaves and fruits.

Visualise a 3D model of the carved piece here

 

Nymphaeum were a common monument throughout the Roman empire including other similar examples within Jordan at Jerash and in Amman (Roman Philadelphia).