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Livias was a city in Palestina Prima, and was 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, new evidence from the Tall el-Hammam Excavation Project raises questions about this identification. When the archaeological evidence is compared with data derived from the textual sources, a new theory is proposed that, while Tall 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.[2] Archaeological evidence from Shuneh al-Janubiyyah has shown the existence of a church in the diocese, dating from the sixth-eighth centuries.[3] A third Byzantine church was discovered between Tall Kafrayn and Tall el-Hammam (2.6 km to the west of Tall el-Hammam) with a large mosaic floor now being used as a Muslim cemetery.[4]


Under the name of Betharan, Livias is twice mentioned in the Bible[5] About 80 B.C. Alexander Jannaeus captured it from the King of the Arabs;[6] 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.[7] Nero gave it with its fourteen villages to Agrippa II,[8] and the Roman general Placidus captured it several years later.[9]

From the time of Eusebius and St. Jerome the natives always called it Bethramtha. Lequien[10] mentions three bishops:

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


  • Reland, Palæstina, I (Utrecht, 1714), 496;
  • Heidet in Fulcran Vigouroux, Dictionnaire de la Bible, s. v. Bétharan


  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; Nelson Glueck, “Some Ancient Towns in the Plains of Moab,” Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research 91 (1943): 11; 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. ^ Graves, David E., and Scott Stripling. “Re-Examination of the Location for the Ancient City of Livias.” Levant 43, no. 2 (2011): 178–200.
  3. ^ The Christian Sanctuaries in Transjordan 07
  4. ^ Graves, David E., and Scott Stripling. “Re-Examination of the Location for the Ancient City of Livias.” Levant 43, no. 2 (2011): 195.
  5. ^ Numbers 32:36; Joshua 13:27
  6. ^ Josephus, "Ant. Jud.", XIV, i, 4.
  7. ^ "Ant.", XVIII, ii, 1; "Bel. Jud.", II, ix,l.
  8. ^ Josephus, "Ant. Jud.", XX, viii, 4.
  9. ^ Josephus, "Bel. Jud.", IV, vii, 6.
  10. ^ Oriens Christianus, III, 655.

External links[edit]

 This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainHerbermann, Charles, ed. (1913). Catholic Encyclopedia. Robert Appleton Company.