Gadara


Useful Information

Location: Umm Qais. 120 km north of Amman, 80 km from Jerash/Gerasa, 25 km northwest of Irbid.
(32.654252, 35.679548)
Open: APR to MAY daily 8-17:30.
JUN to OCT daily 8-18:30.
NOV to MAR daily 8-16.
Ramadan: 8-15:30.
[2020]
Fee: Jordanians JOD 0.25, Foreigners JOD 5.
[2020]
Classification: SubterraneaQanat
Light: electric.
Dimension: L=106km.
Guided tours: self guided, L=380m.
Photography: allowed
Accessibility: no
Bibliography: Prof. Dr.-Ing. Mathias Döring (2011): Wasser für die Dekapolis, Vortrag in der Kurhessischen Gesellschaft für Kunst und Wissenschaft Kassel e.V. am 28.01.2011. Deutsch - German online
Address:
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
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History

90-210 aqueduct built.
747 destroyed by an earthquake.

Description

The ancient city Gadara is located next to the modern Umm Qais (or Qays) on a high plateau in the northwestern corner of the country. Its location on the main trade route from Bostra to the Mediterranean ports made the city quite wealthy. It started when it became part of the Roman Provincia Arabiam but its heyday were between the 2nd to the 4th century. And during the Byzantine period it was still important. The city has numerous quite impressive underground structures.

Gadara was the end of the 170km long water supply system called Qanat Fir'aun (Canal of the Pharaoh). 106km of this water canal was underground, which made it the longest tunnel of antiquity. A 380m long section of the tunnel below the Acropolis was renovated and is open to the public. In the 1st century the population of the three cities Adra'a, Abila and Gadara had grown to about 50,000 people. The daily use per person increased to the 300 to 400 litres which were usual in Roman cities. The three cities decided together to build a long-distance water pipeline. The construction started in 90 and was finally completed in 210. The water flowed through a canal to allow considerable flow rates. The water came from two reservoirs in Wadi Harier with a capacity of 4 to 6 million cubic metres. 14 secondary lines formed tributaries from the lake Muzarib and various springs.

The city has no springs, but three springs located below the Akra. As a result the city used cisterns to store rain water. On the hill 75 reservoirs with a capacity of 6m³ up to 450m³ have been found. Most were built in the late Hellenistic period (160-30 BC). But in Roman times the population increased and baths became popular. This was the reason for a new aqueduct.

The first was Qanat Turab from the Ain Turab spring to Gadara. The spring was 11km away but the aqueduct worked with gravity, so it had to be led around the valleys. As a result it was 22km long and surpassed all tunnels built up to that time. The water most likely flowed through clay pipes in a covered channel close to the surface. Near Gadara the aqueduct crossed the valley on a bridge. It ended in the lower tunnel under the Acropolis and was fed into the urban water supply.