Sepphoris in Wikipedia
Tzippori (Hebrew: צִפּוֹרִי, ציפורי), also known as Sepphoris, Dioceserea and Saffuriya (Arabic:
صفورية, also transliterated Safurriya and Suffurriye) is located in the central Galilee region,
6 kilometers (4 mi) north-northwest of Nazareth, in modern-day Israel. The site holds a rich
and diverse historical and architectural legacy that includes Assyrian, Hellenistic, Judean,
Babylonian, Roman, Byzantine, Islamic, Crusader, Arabic and Ottoman influences.
Interest on the part of Biblical archaeologists is related to the belief in Christian tradition
that the parents of the Virgin Mary, Anna and Joachim, were natives of Tzippori, at the time a
Hellenized town. Notable structures at the site include a Roman theater, two early Christian
Churches, a Crusader fortress that was renovated by Daher El-Omar in the 18th century, and
upwards of forty different mosaics.
Tzippori once served as a center of Jewish religious and spiritual life in the Galilee; remains
of a 6th century synagogue have been uncovered in the lower section of the site. In the 7th
century, it came under the rule of the Arab caliphates like much of the rest of Palestine.
Successive Arab and Islamic imperial authorities ruled the area until the end of the first
World War I, with a brief interruption during the Crusades. Until the forcible expulsion of its
inhabitants by Israeli forces in 1948-1949, Saffuriya was an Arab village. The
Israeli moshav Tzippori was established adjacent to the site in 1949, and the area occupied by
the former Arab village was designated a national park in 1992. Moshav Tzippori falls under the
jurisdiction of Jezreel Valley Regional Council, and in 2006 had a population of 616.
Early history --
Although the date of the city's establishment is a point of some dispute, it is at least as old
as the 7th century BCE, when it was fortified by the ancient Assyrians, and subsequently served
as an administrative center in the region under Babylonian, Hellenistic and Persian rule.
Throughout this time period, the city was known as Sepphoris.
In 104 BCE, the Hasmoneans settled there under the leadership of either Alexander Jannaeus or
Aristobulus I. The city was called Tzippori and may have derived from the Hebrew word for
'bird,' tsippor, perhaps because of the bird's-eye view the hilltop provides.
The Hasmonean Kingdom was divided into five districts by the Roman pro-consul Gabinius and
Sepphoris came under the direct rule of the Romans in the year 37 BCE, when Herod the Great
captured the city from Mattathaias Antigonus reportedly at the height of a snowstorm.
Tzippori of the time of Jesus was a large, Roman-influenced city and hotbed of political
activism. Archaeological evidence supports the idea that Jesus, while living in Nazareth, did
most of his business in Tzippori.
After Herod's death in 4 BCE, the Jewish inhabitants of Tzippori rebelled against Roman rule
and the Roman army moved in under the command of the Roman Governor in Syria, Varus. Completely
destroying the city, the Roman army then sold many of its inhabitants into slavery.
Herod's son, Herod Antipas was made Tetrarch, or governor, in 1 CE, and proclaimed the city's
new name to be Autocratis, or the "Ornament of the Galilee." A ancient route linking
Tzippori to Legio, and further to the south to Sebaste-Samaria, is believed to have been paved
by the Romans around this time.
The inhabitants of Autocratis did not join the resistance against Roman rule in the First
Jewish Revolt of 66 CE Rather, they signed a pact with the Roman army and opened the gates of
the city to the Roman general Vespasian upon his arrival in 67 CE They were then rewarded
for this allegiance by having their city spared from the destruction suffered by many other
Jewish cities, including Jerusalem.
Coins minted in the city at the time of the First Revolt carried the inscription Neronias and
Eirenopolis, "City of Peace." After the revolt, symbolism used on the coins was little
different from other surrounding pagan city coins with depictions of laurel wreaths, palm
trees, caduceus', and ears of barley.
Just prior to the Bar Kokhba revolt, the city's name was changed yet again to Diocaesarea.
Following the Bar Kokhba revolt in 132–135, many Jewish refugees settled there, turning it into
the center of religious and spiritual life in the Galilee. Rabbi Yehuda Hanasi, one of the
compilers of the Mishnah, a commentary on the Torah, moved to Tzippori, along with the
Sanhedrin, the highest Jewish religious court. Before moving to Tiberias by 150 CE, Jewish
academies of learning, Yeshivot, were now based there. Diocaeserea, so named in honor of Zeus
and the Roman Emperor, became not only a center of spiritual and religious study, but also a
busy metropolis of trade because of its proximity to important trade routes through the Galilee
Diocaesarea was destroyed by the Galilee earthquake of 363, but rebuilt soon afterwards, and
retained its importance in the greater Jewish community of the Galilee, both socially,
commercially, and spiritually. Jews and pagan Romans lived peacefully alongside one another
during the Byzantine period, and the city welcomed a number of Christians, as well...