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Gerasa (jĕrˈəsə) [key], Gerash, or Jerash both: jĕˈräsh, jəräshˈ, ancient city of the Decapolis, 22 mi (35 km) N of Amman, in present-day Jordan. According to Josephus it was captured (83 B.C.) by Alexander Jannaeus, king of the Hasmonean dynasty, and rebuilt (A.D. 65) by the Romans. Though twice destroyed thereafter, it was a flourishing city in the 2d and 3d cent. The Greco-Roman city was called Jerash and is probably the best-preserved Palestinian city of Roman times. The site is covered with interesting Roman ruins, including a long colonnaded street with more than a hundred columns still standing, a great theater and a smaller one, a triumphal arch, and many temples. It was also important in the development of early Christianity, and several churches of the period have been found there. Gerasa is not the biblical country of the Gerasenes. A colony of Circassians lives among the ruins.

See C. H. Kraeling, ed., Gerasa, City of the Decapolis (1938).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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