Golan, al-Golan or Gaulonitis (Hebrew: גּולן; Arabic: جولان Gōlān or Jōlān; Greek: Γαυλανῖτις Gaulanítis) refers to an area that was shared between the Roman provinces of Judea and Phoenice. Its main cities were Golan (Gaulan) and Galama. Archaeologists localize the city of Golan at Sahm el-Jaulān, where ruins were found from the early Byzantine era.
After the collapse of the Seleucid Empire at the end of the 2nd century BCE, the Itureans, the Jews ruled by the Hasmoneans, the Nabateans, and finally the Romans and their Jewish client rulers, the Herodians, fought for the control of the area. The region was prosperous between the 2nd and the 7th century CE when pagan communities were step by step replaced by Christian ones. An important Jewish presence was attested by archaeology for the Roman and Byzantine periods in the Golan.
The area is referred in the Hebrew Bible as the territory of Manasseh in the conquered territory of Bashan: Golan was the most northerly of the three cities of refuge east of the Jordan River (Deuteronomy 4:43). Manasseh gave this Levitical city to the Gershonite Levites (Joshua 21:27; 1 Chronicles 6:71). According to the Bible, the Israelites conquered Golan, taking it from the Amorites.
The city of Golan was known to Josephus. Near Golan, Alexander Jannaeus was ambushed by King Obodas I of the Nabateans. It formed the eastern boundary of Galilee and was part of the tetrarchy of Philip. It was described by Eusebius in his Onomasticon as a large village that gave its name to the surrounding country.
- The history and antiquities of al-Golan - International Conference, al-Bassel Center for Archeological Research and Training, 2007-2008.
- Rami Arav, Richard A. Freund (2004). Bethsaida: A City by the North Shore of the Sea of Galilee, vol. 3 (v. 3) (Paperback ed.). Truman State University Press. p. 42. ISBN 1-931112-39-8.
- Avraham Negev and Shimon Gibson (2001). Golan; Gaulanitis; Jaulan. Archaeological Encyclopedia of the Holy Land (New York and London: Continuum). pp. 206–208. ISBN 0-8264-1316-1.
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