Sardis Verlag

A Small Map of the First Province of Judea

Sardis VerlagComment


Today we proudly present our first new map of the new year. A small but quite detailed representation of the Roman province of Judea in the first decades of the 1st century CE. It will be published as a postcard shortly, making it the first product in a whole series of new products to be released in the next few months, including two completely new full-sized wall maps.


Under Roman rule, the entire region was thoroughly transformed. In addition to the various regime changes, this era brought the two Jewish Roman Wars, which lead to the destruction of the second temple and the expulsion of all Jews from the region around Jerusalem. In consequence, the primarily Jewish realm of King Herod the Great became the mainly pagan province of Syria Palaestina, as it is depicted on our big map of The Roman Empire in 211 CE.

After the collapse of the Seleucid Empire more than 100 years earlier, the mountains of Libanon, Antilibanon and Hermon (north of the area of Jewish settlement) had become a haven for robbers and home to numerous small independent states. It wasn't until the reign of Augustus, that order was largely restored. Many of these small states, such as the terarchy of Lysanias around the town of Abila, or Chalcis in Libanon, survived as Roman clients with changing rulers long into the Imperial era.


Our map depicts the first phase of direct Roman rule in Judea. After king Herod died in 4 BCE, his quite extensive realm was divided. The Greek cities of Hippos, Gadara and Gaza were detached from royal rule and became part of the province of Syria, which already included the highly Hellenized enclave of the other Decapolis cities. Herod's son Archelaos received the title of Ethnarch and the heartland of his father's kingdom to rule: Judea, Samaria and Idumaea. His brother Philippos became tetrarch of Gaulanitis, Batanaea, Trachonitits and Auranitis, while his brother Herod Antipas became tetrarch of Peraea and Galilee. Already in 6 CE Archelaos was disposed of by the Emperor and his territories become the Province Iudaea, governed by an equestrian prefect. The prefect had his seat in Caesarea Maritima (once founded by Herod) and was a subordinate to the Syrian governor in Antioch.


This arrangement survived for some decades until the death of Philippos in 33/34. During this epoch, the Tetrarchs founded the cities of Tiberias in Galilee, Iulias and Caesarea Philippi at the places of Bethsaida and Panias in lower Gaulanitis, as well as Iulias/Livias in Peraea.

After the death of Philippos, his tetrarchy became a part of Syria and was placed under direct Roman administration for a few years. But with the inauguration of the new Emperor Caligula, it was given to the grandson of Herod the Great, Herod Agrippa I. He later also received the former tetrarchy of Lysanias, the title of King, Herod Antipas' territories and, after playing his part in the ascension of the new Emperor Claudius, also the province of Iudaea. Thus, for a short time, almost all of his grandfathers' realm was united once again.


The Near East of this period was a landscape dominated by networks of many small and quite extensive villages, that took over the function that cities had elsewhere, as well as Greek city states.

The self-administrating city states were the basic units of the Roman Empire's and its Hellenistic predecessors organization. Since the age of Alexander the Great, over 300 years earlier, the new rulers of the Near East had either refounded the ancient cities of the region as Polises with Greek constitutions or promoted the foundation of new examples of this kind.


Especially, the territories of the old Phoenician coastal cities in some cases encompassed vast areas. Sidon and Damascus had a common border somewhere around Mt. Hermon and Augustus' new Colonia, the old Phoenician town of Berytus, included at least the northern part of the modern Bekaa Valley with the great sanctuary at Heliopolis.