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The ancient city of Gamla located at the southern part of the Golan holds importance in and historical and archaeological sites. Gamla also played a big role in the Jewish revolt. Being one of only the five cities ever to rebel against Rome. Gamla is also a symbol of heroism to the people of Israel.


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Gamla was an ancient Jewish City which was located at the southern part of the Golan, overlooking the Sea of Galilee. Gamla was built on a steep hill which is shaped like a camel's hump. This is also where Gamla got its name Gamla which means ‘the camel’ in the Aramaic language. During the early Bronze age Gamla was inhabited ,but the city later appears to have been founded as a Seleucid fort during the Syrian Wars in the 3rd Century B.C.E. Which later became a civilian settlement. In the last quarter of the 2nd Century BCE it was later inhabited by the Jews , but is believed to have been annexed by the Hasmonean state under King Alexander Jannaeus in c. 81 BCE. [1]

Gamla Jewish history began during the first century B.C.E which was founded by King Alexander Jannaeus between 83-80 B.C.E. Gamla was a Jewish town that a had a population of 5,000 farmers.[2]

Josephus (Successor to King Alexander) the Commander of Galilee lead the revolt against rome in the Jewish Revolt. Also in 66 CE ge fortified Gamla as his main stronghold on the Gloan. He gave a detailed description of the city and described the Roman siege under the command of vespasian, which later lead to the conquest in 67 CE. Rome's first attempt to capture Galma was not a success because they used a siege ramp, and they were easily turned back by the defenders. Rome’s second attempt to take Galma was a success because they penetrated the fortification and conquered the city. Thousands of Jews were slaughtered while others committed suicide by jumping off the cliffs. Ever since then Glama was never rebuilt and never discovered until 1970.[3]

Life in the City

Gamla was built on a hill between the valleys of the creeks Gamla and Daliot. The city was structured on a small saddle of the basalt ridge while also being surrounded by deep gorges. This gave Gamla a storage advantage in defense if ever in battle. There was also only one road the approached the city and that was from the east. The entrance to Gamla was well fortified by a wall. The wall was built of square basalt stones that were up to 6 m thick. But the city was located on more on the gentle southern slope. Also along the wall were square towers and on top of the hill on the northern side were round towers. The towers were built a lot earlier than the wall and before they were attacked. On the western side of the city was the area where the rich lived. The capital of the city Golan which lasted for about 150 years was well known for its High-Quality Olive Oil. The Olive Oil was produced a lot during the time of Herod the Great.

Gamla was also a typical Jewish settlement that was used for a matter of worship to God. Just recently archaeologists have discovered an ancient synagogue and also a lot of other different ritual objects. At the beginning of the first millennium the Romans turned the Jewish Kingdom into Judea the Gmailites played a large rule in the struggle for independence.[1]

Siege of Gamla

Used to bring the walls of Gamla down

The siege of Gamla started during the Jewish against Rome. Josephus Flavius, the commander of Galilee against the Romans fortified Gamla as his main stronghold on the Golan. Josephus gave a very detailed description of the topography of the city which he called Gamala. The steep ravines that the city already had made it easier for Josephus because he did not need to build a wall. On the northern side of the saddle which was the towns eastern extremity, there was a 250 meters-long wall built. This gave them a good advantage against the Romans.

Before the Gamla revolt on Rome, it used to be loyal to Rome. Gamla turned rebellious due to the influences of foreigners from other areas. Gamla was one of the five cities that rebelled against Rome and the Vespasian’s legions. Vespasian was the current emperor of Rome at the time. The city endured the first seven-month siege, which was put together in 66 CE by Herod Agrippa II. On the date of October 12, 67 CE Vespasian's army of 60,000 soldiers began there the second siege on the city. According to Josephus citizens of the city and the rebel army only combined to 9,000. This number is said to be exaggerated because before the siege Gamla became a refuge city.

Josephus has given a much clearer description of exactly happened while being attacked. The Romans first attempt was by siege ramp which turned into a horrible defeat for the Romans. The Romans second attempt to capture the city was a success. They use the Roman Ballista to break walls down and enter into the city. Once the Romans were in the city they faced the Jewish in hand to hand combat up against the steep hills of Gamla. This second siege on Gamla was almost a success but too many Roman soldiers were getting killed so Rome retreated. A few days later Rome returned at took control of Gamla. [1]

Gamla Synagogue and the Gamla Mikveh

Gamla Synagogue

The Gamla synagogue is one of the late first century C.E. synagogues that are known to have existed to this day. Before the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem in 70 C.E. synagogue like the one in Gamla were used as community centers then houses of worship. Inside of Gamla protective walls lay the ruins of the ancient synagogue. The benches on the outside of the synagogue made the structure conducive for public gathering. There is also archeological evidence that suggests the before the Roman siege the synagogue was used as a refugee camp. [4]

During the discovery of the Synagogue, the Mikaviot was also discovered. Mikveh's are baths that were built for ritual immersion. The tradition was the before one could enter the Temple of Jerusalem and worship they would have to enter a mikveh. Which would make them ritually pure. [5]

Present-Day Gamla

Since 2003, the territory of the Ancient City Gamla has now been incorporated into the Gamla nature reserve which is open to tourists. Included in the ancient city of Gamla is also the highest waterfall in Israeli-occupied territory. On some occasions, religious visitors will hold bar mitzvahs in the ruins of the ancient Gamla synagogue. Unfortunately, in May of 2010, the remains of the ancient city were damaged a lot more during a fire which was caused during a military exercise. In Israel, there is a catchphrase that says “ Gamla will not fall again” meaning that even today it holds importance to the safety and security of Israel.[1]


Video of Gamla


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Author Unknown[1]"Gamla". Web. 15 November 2018
  2. AVIVA AND SHMUEL BAR-AM[2]"gamla-the-camel-backed-mountain".Web. 16 February 2013
  3. Author Unknown[3]"Gamla". Web. 17 January 2019
  4. Author Unknown[4]"first-c-synagogues-gamla". Web. 17 January 2019
  5. Author Unknown[5] "jewish-context-of-jesus". Web. 17 January 2019