Journal article Open Access

From Stadium to Harbor: Reinterpreting the Curved Ashlar Structure in Roman Tiberias

Bonnie, Rick

A salvage excavation in the modern city of Tiberias in 2002 exposed the remnants of a wide, curved ashlar structure. Based on its curved shape, its construction date, and its location, various scholars have identified this structure as the foundation wall of the Roman stadium mentioned by Josephus in relation to the First Jewish Revolt (66–67 C.E.). However, neither Josephus nor the later rabbinic sources imply the presence of a stone-built monumental stadium at the location of this site, nor does all of the exposed evidence related to the structure fit with the stadium theory. Therefore, a different interpretation for this structure is proposed. Based on the presence of a mooring stone projecting outward from the structure's waterside and the complex's strong similarities in structural characteristics and in elevation to the nearby late Hellenistic to Roman harbor of Magdala, it is argued that the remains should be identified as those of a quay, a stone platform built along the lakeshore to accommodate the loading and unloading of boats. If this interpretation is correct, it suggests the existence of a harbor structure in the northeast area of Roman Tiberias.

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