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Tiberias - Aviv Hotel

Aviv Hotel

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The excavation (c. 100 sq m: Figs. 1, 2) was conducted at the foot of a hill, west of the Galē Kinneret Hotel, where building remains dating to the Roman, Byzantine, Early Islamic and Crusader periods, as well as the modern era, were discovered (Strata 1–5).

Building remains that included mosaic pavements and stone floors and several column bases dating to the Roman and Byzantine periods were excavated in 1997, c. 30 m southwest of the current excavation (Permit No. A-2586; Area A). Numerous remains, which dated to the Roman, Byzantine and Early Islamic periods, including the prominent stadium from the Roman period, were exposed in 2002, c. 100 m east of the present excavation ( Hartal, 2008).


The finds in the excavation corroborate the supposition that the Roman-period city in Tiberias did not extend as far as the shore of the Kinneret; rather, it was situated on a higher level. A stadium that Josephus mentioned was built near the shore, outside the limits of the city. The city had expanded as far as the shore of the lake in the Byzantine period. Building remains from the Byzantine and Umayyad periods were discovered in the excavation area. The city suffered tremendous damage in the earthquake of 749 CE. It seems that this earthquake also destroyed buildings in the excavation area, although this cannot be confirmed as yet.

The city reached the peak of its prosperity as the capital of Jund al-Urdun in the Abbasid period. The expanded city, which extended from the municipal park in the north, south of Hammat Tiberias, continued to flourish also in the Fatimid period. In the second half of the eleventh century CE, most of the area in the city was abandoned and the settlement was concentrated within the present Old City. The excavation area was left outside the city limits in this period; however, it was very close to the city wall. The finds from the excavation seem to show that activity transpired outside the city walls. The excavation area remained beyond the city’s boundaries until it was rebuilt in the twentieth century CE.

Tiberias - Introduction Webpage

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Aerial Views and Plans

Aerial Views

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Aviv Hotel

Stratum Period Date Range (CE) Description
5 Roman-Early Byzantine 2nd-4th centuries CE

Gray soil that contained a mixture of numerous potsherds, mostly Kefar Hananya type ware (second–fourth centuries CE) was exposed in the earliest stratum. In addition, two short sections of poorly preserved walls (W4, W12; Figs. 3, 4) that may have belonged to buildings from this period were exposed.

4 Late Byzantine-Umayyad 6th-8th centuries CE

A wall (W8) of a pool, coated with gray plaster (L115; Fig. 5), was exposed. A shallow channel (L116), possibly one that conveyed the overflow from the pool, crossed the top of the wall. Ceramic finds from the Byzantine and Umayyad periods (sixth–eighth centuries CE) were discovered in the pool, which was damaged by later construction.

3 Abbasid and Fatimid 9th-11th centuries CE

Remains of well-built walls were exposed; however, they were damaged by the construction of a later pool (L126; see Stratum 2 below) in the west and by modern earthmoving work in the south. Two construction phases were discerned in the walls (Fig. 6). Three walls (W5B, W11, W14) were ascribed to the early phase and three walls (W5A, W7, W13)—to the later phase; in addition, another wall (W3) exposed in the south of the area probably also belonged to the late phase. The finds close to the walls from both phases and within the walls themselves dated to the Abbasid and Fatimid periods (ninth–eleventh centuries CE).

2 Crusader 11th-12th centuries CE

Two non-contiguous building complexes were discovered. Remains of a pool (L126) were uncovered in the north of the area; two of its walls were preserved, and only one was excavated (W6). The pool was covered with a vault, into which an opening was cut allowing the water to flow in (Figs. 7, 8). A multitude of potsherds from the eleventh and twelfth centuries CE was discovered in the pool. The most prominent of these finds is a glazed bowl decorated with a drawing of a Crusader soldier (Fig. 9). Two perpendicular walls (W1, W10) were discovered in the south of the area. The course of Wall 1 was not straight (exposed length c. 8 m) and a small elliptical pool (L103) was adjacent to its northeastern side. The floor of the pool and the lower parts of its walls were plastered. The plaster also covered a section of W1, indicating that the wall and the pool were used at the same time. The ceramic finds in the south of the area dated to the eleventh and twelfth centuries CE and included another fragment of the decorated bowl that was discovered in the north of the area. The Crusader-period pottery consists of a homogenous assemblage from the pool, which is unique and important for the study of the ceramic repertoire of Tiberias in this period.

1 Modern

Remains of a modern building, including a wall foundation (W9) and a concrete floor, were exposed. Most of the building is completely destroyed. The entire excavation area was disturbed in the modern era.

All of Tiberias

Stratum Period Date Notes
I Late Fatimid 11th century CE construction above the collapse caused by an earthquake (in 1033 CE?)
II Early Fatimid 9th - 10th centuries CE continued use of the street with shops.
III Abbasid 8th - 9th centuries CE a row of shops, the basilica building was renovated.
IV Byzantine–Umayyad 5th - 7th centuries CE the eastern wing was added to the basilica building; the paved street; destruction was caused by the earthquake in 749 CE.
V Late Roman 4th century CE construction of the basilica complex, as well as the city’s institutions, i. e., the bathhouse and the covered market place.
VI Roman 2nd - 3rd centuries CE establishment of the Hadrianeum in the second century CE (temple dedicated to Hadrian that was never completed) and industrial installations; the paving of the cardo and the city’s infrastructure.
VII Early Roman 1st century CE founding of Tiberias, construction of the palace with the marble floor on the shore of the Sea of Galilee, opus sectile, fresco.
VIII Hellenistic 1st - 2nd centuries BCE fragments of typical pottery vessels (fish plates, Megarian bowls).

749 CE Earthquake

Zingboym and Hartal (2011) wrote that it seems that this earthquake [one of the 749 CE Sabbatical Year Quakes] also destroyed buildings in the excavation area, although this cannot be confirmed as yet.

Notes and Further Reading