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Livias (Talmudic Hebrew: בית רמתה‎) was a city in Palestina Prima, and an episcopal see, a suffragan of the Caesarea in Palaestina.


The traditional location of the Roman city is at Tell er-Rameh, a small hill rising in the plain beyond Jordan, about twelve miles from Jericho.[1] However, evidence from the Tell el-Hammam excavations raises questions about this identification.[2] It has been proposed that, while Tell er-Rameh was the commercial and residential center of Livias, the area around Tall el-Hammam, which grew in the Early Roman period, was the administrative epicentre of Livias.[3] Archaeological evidence from Shuneh al-Janubiyyah has shown the existence of a church in the diocese, dating from the sixth-eighth centuries.[4] A third Byzantine church was discovered between Tall Kafrayn and Tell el-Hammam (2.6 kilometres (1.6 mi) to the west of Tell el-Hammam) with a large mosaic floor now being used as a Muslim cemetery.[5]


Under the name of Betharan, Livias is twice mentioned in the Bible.[6] About 80 B.C. Alexander Jannaeus captured it from the King of the Arabs;[7] it was then called Betharamphtha. Somewhat later Herod Antipas, Tetrarch of Galilee, fortified it with strong walls and called it Livias after the wife of Augustus; Josephus calls it Julias also, because he always speaks of the wife of Augustus as Julia.[8] Nero gave it with its fourteen villages to Agrippa II,[9] and the Roman general Placidus captured it several years later.[10][11]

From the time of Eusebius and St. Jerome the natives always called it Bethramtha.[11] Lequien[12] mentions three bishops:

  • Letoius, who was at Ephesus in 431;
  • Pancratius, at Chalcedon in 451;
  • Zacharias, at Jerusalem in 536.


  1. ^ Morris Jastrow and Frants Buhl, “Beth–Aram,” Jewish Encyclopedia (New York, N.Y.: Funk & Wagnalls, 1906), 119; Siméon Vailhé, “Livias,” trans. Mario Anello, Catholic Encyclopedia (New York, N.Y.: Appleton Company, 1910), 9:315; William F. Albright, “The Jordan Valley in the Bronze Age,” Annual of the American Schools of Oriental Research 6 (1925 1924): 49 (JSTOR 3768510); Nelson Glueck, “Some Ancient Towns in the Plains of Moab,” Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research 91 (1943): 11 (JSTOR 3219054); Kay Prag, “A Walk in the Wadi Hesban,” Palestine Exploration Quarterly 123 (1991): 60–61; Herbert Donner, The Mosaic Map of Madaba. An Introductory Guide, Palaestina Antiqua 7 (Kampen: Kok Pharos, 1992), 39; Estee Dvorjetski, Leisure, Pleasure, and Healing: Spa Culture and Medicine in Ancient Eastern Mediterranean, Supplements to the Journal for the Study of Judaism 116 (Leiden: Brill, 2007), 202.
  2. ^ Tall el-Hammam Excavation Project
  3. ^ Graves, David E.; Stripling, Scott (2011). "Re-Examination of the Location for the Ancient City of Livias". Levant 43 (2): 178–200. 
  4. ^ Piccirillo, Michele. "The Christian Sanctuaries in Transjordan, part 07". Franciscan Archaeological Institute. 
  5. ^ Graves and Stripling: 195.
  6. ^ Numbers 32:36; Joshua 13:27
  7. ^ Josephus: PACE: AJ, 14.1.4 (Whiston); Perseus Project AJ14.1.4.
  8. ^ Josephus: PACE: AJ, 18.2.1 (Whiston); Perseus Project AJ18.2.1. . Josephus: PACE: BJ, 2.9.1 (Whiston); Perseus Project BJ2.9.1.
  9. ^ Josephus: PACE: AJ, 20.8.4 (Whiston); Perseus Project AJ20.8.4.
  10. ^ Josephus: PACE: BJ, 4.7.6 (Whiston); Perseus Project BJ4.7.6.
  11. ^ a b Wikisource-logo.svg "Livias". Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. 1913. 
  12. ^ Oriens Christianus, III, 655.

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