Tel Bet Yerah Research and Excavations Project

The Umayyad Qasr
   In 1945–6 the remains of a bathhouse attached to the wall of a large fortified compound were found just above the Circles Building. The remaining part of this compound, including a large apsidal hall decorated with coloured mosaics, was excavated by Guy and Bar-Adon in 1950–1953 and dubbed by them a synagogue.
Colored Mosaics of the Umayyad Qasr Recently, Donald Whitcomb of the Oriental Institute re-examined the plan and architectural features of the bathhouse and the fortified apsidal building. He suggested they form a structural complex with characteristics that recall the so-called desert castles (qusur) of the early Islamic Levant.
   Located about 6 km south of the Umayyad capital of el-Urdunn province Tabariyya (Tiberias),
just off the main Ramla-Beisan-Damascus highway, Tel Bet Yerah can be identified as al-Sinnabra (or Sinn al-Nabra), where early Arab historians place temporary courts of the Umayyad Caliphs. According to Whitcomb, the qasr excavated by Bar-Adon may represent the earliest recorded Umayyad complex of this type.
In 2009, excavations in the Qasr were renewed by TBYREP. The deep and massive foundations of the building were examined, the mosaic floors were cleaned and carefully recorded, and a number of soundings were excavated in order to determine the time of construction. As predicted by Whitcomb, the archaeological evidence showed that the first stage of construction occurred in the early part of the Umayyad period, and that changes and additions continued to be made during the century of their rule. Later, a second citadel was built, possibly in Abbasid times.
   

 



 

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Tel Bet Yerah Research and Excavations Project