2000 Year Old Amphitheatre Discovered Near Tiberias

IAA: Findings demonstrate city's pluralistic nature and are significant to Jewish heritage.

A 2000-year-old Roman amphitheatre has finally been revealed after 19 years of excavation work since its first discovery.

15 meters below ground remnants of a Roman amphitheatre peek through the sand in a place which was "a central meeting point" according to Archeologist, Doctor Valid Atrash, from the Israel Antiquities Authority.

The 1990 findings came as a surprise to the archeologists digging near Mount Berniki in the Tiberias hills as there are no references to such a place anywhere in scriptures.

Only at the beginning of 2009, 19 years after the primary discovery, did the uncovering of the theatre in its entirety begin.

The late Professor Izhar Hirshfeld and Yossi Stefanski, the archeologists heading the excavation, initially assessed the remains to belong to the 2nd or 3rd century C.E., but quickly realized that they go all the way back to the beginning of the 1st century C.E., closer to the founding of Tiberias.

"The most interesting thing about the amphitheatre," said Hirshfeld upon the discovery, "is its Jewish context. Unlike Tzipori, which was a multi-cultural city, Tiberias was a Jewish city under Roman rule. The findings demonstrate the city's pluralistic nature and cultural openness, a fact uncommon in those days."

In light of the findings Tiberias appears as particularly liberal for a city that was established over 2000 years ago, said Atrash and added that "the theatre was enormous, and being so it attracted a lot of attention. It seated over 7000 people, and appears to have been a prominent landmark for the entire area."

Mayor of Tiberias Zohar Oved said the discovery of the amphitheatre is undoubtedly "one of the most important findings in the history of the Jewish people" and is planned to open the site to the public as part of Tiberias archeological gardens in the near future.

The site will be named after Amir Drori, the first director of the Israel Antiquities Authority.