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""A welcome and refreshing departure from the usual type of publication about an ancient city. It is the first comprehensive treatment of the history of a major.
Table of contents

Victor is described in the second of the inscriptions as a priest. These installations illustrate the process of developing and expanding the Pan sanctuary, which involved not only the addition of altars, shrines and temples, but also the introduction of additional deities traditionally associated with Pan. This process continued throughout the second century Fig.


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An impressive series of coins was produced which were to set the typology of Panian numismatics for almost a century. The largest coin of the series depicts Zeus standing, nude, holding a sceptre in one hand and a patera with the other. At his feet stands an altar, no doubt the altar before the sanctum of the Zeus temple in which the cult statue depicted on the coin stood Fig.

This image also occurs over and over on coins of Banias for the next half-century and is by far the most prevalent theme shown on the coins of the city Fig.

The iconography of this series of coins will be analysed below in the context of our discussion of religion in Banias. At this point we simply note the potential significance of the reopening of the mint, and the appearance of Zeus, Pan and Tyche as the dominant deities of the city, in the year AD, a date that featured prominently on the coins. Tzaferis has suggested that the beginnings of the Zeus cult in Banias should be placed within the context of the religious reforms of Marcus Aurelius.

The cult statue described above can be clearly seen inside the building.

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The inscription, dated AD, reads as follows: For the preservation of our lords the Emperors, Valerios Hispanos, priest of the god Pan [dedicated] the Lady Nemesis and her shrine which was made by cutting away the rock underneath, with an iron fence. Year in the month of Apellaios. These grills were a feature of several of the shrines and temples in Banias. The pavement formed a narrow In addition to the usual athletic events, a particular characteristic of these spectacles may have been the punishment of prisoners of war, given the strong military presence in or near the city that we have already noted.

It is important to remember, however, that the cult of Nemesis was common in the area in other cities, so perhaps there was no special circumstance in Banias to call for the shrine there. The dynasty showed great interest in the region in various ways.

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Soon after his reign began, Septimius Severus completed the reorganisation that had been promised by Hadrian, partitioning the province of Syria into an eastern half, called Coele-Syria, and a western half, called Syro-Phoenicia. Banias came under a new administration, being assigned a place in the province of Phoenicia. An analysis of a large number of bronze coins mostly from the early third century found near an entrance into the public basilica in the former palace of Agrippa II illustrates the important web of trade connections.

Of the identifiable coins, five were minted in Banias itself, six in Tyre, two in Damascus and one each in Sidon, Heliopolis, Petra and NysaScythopolis. The pattern of trade is clear, even in this small sample. The local mint at Banias reached its peak, both in number of issues and creativity of design, during the days of the Severan Dynasty. The religious interests of the dynasty, and particularly its interest in the Syrian cults, are well known.

The coins, along with inscriptions and archaeological finds, suggest a strong upsurge of interest in Pan in the city, beginning in the days of Marcus Aurelius, but reaching its climax under Elagabalus —22AD , whose assumed name proclaimed his identification with Syrian religious traditions.

These depicted not only the emperor, but also several female members of his family his mother Julia Soaemus, his grandmother Julia Maesa and two of his wives, Aquilia Severa and Annia Faustina, both of whom he married in that year.

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Many of these coins feature Pan, but place him in impressive new surroundings. It is especially significant that a particular reverse design may be found from this same year AD on coins having the portraits of every one of the family members of Elagabalus mentioned above. On these coins the usual cult statue of Pan is shown, but on either side of the figure there are flags or decorated standards.

New female deities related to Pan appear; women of the imperial household are featured on the coins; and the Pan sanctuary is enlarged and beautified. More will be said about the direct religious implications of this activity in the next chapter. Here we only note that the city of Banias has obviously come strongly to the attention of the imperial family, particularly the women in that family, and that this attention climaxes in the year AD.

We are led to seek a reason. The answer may lie in the nature of the Pan cult itself, with its strong connections with fertility and sexuality. It is most likely that the cult of Pan in his aspect as a god of nature, flocks and fecundity was of particular interest to women. Elagabalus, whose sexual orientation was ambiguous to say the least, and who appears to have been totally uninterested in women, was married to a series of wives, two of whom appear on the coins of Banias, in hopes of producing an heir. The red-rock cliff served as the back wall of the structure.

A niche had been carved into the cliffside at that point with a series of small compartments along a walkway leading to it. Within these compartments were found a large number of goat bones. A coin of Julia Maesa was found in the foundation, proving that the building was built in AD or later. He thinks this might be the structure with a semi-circular colonnade depicted on the coins. These two structures seem to be associated; perhaps offerings made in the Apsidal Court were deposited in the compartments of the Tripartite Building.

High above the court dedicated to Nemesis there is an inscription on the face of the cliffside beside a small niche that has been carved into the rock. The inscription seems to announce the dedication of a small statue of the goddess Echo by the archon chief magistrate of the city, whose name is Agrippas, son of Markos. He is joined in this act by his wife Agrippias and presumably their kinsmen Agrippinos, Markos and Agrippas, who are bouleutai town councillors , and their children, Agrippine and Domne.

Although this phrase is rather common on inscriptions of this type, it may indicate a particular religious fervour in the town at this time, during which the ancient cult received new life and the gods worshipped there become active in the lives of the citizens, appearing to them in dreams etc. The discovery of other fragments of inscriptions and altars dedicated to Elagabalus and possibly to Caracalla, show that other citizens were moved to participate in this activity as well.

Other than a milestone bearing the name of Gordian III —44AD ,55 the record falls silent as the empire itself began to descend into economic and political chaos. There is one possible exception to this pattern of silence. There is no consensus concerning the dating of the various recensions of this map; it seems to have been based on a firstcentury original and a fourth-century edition.

Several other names on the map are pre-Constantinian, but later than the first century. This seems to be the case with Banias as well. Still, something of the spirit of the times survives.

The Gates of Hell - Banias or Caesarea Philippi (FCF S9E3)

We do not know what special relationship Diocletian had with Banias, but it is curious that several rabbinical stories tie the emperor to the city, even claiming that he lived there while he was emperor of Rome. The memories of his interest in the city are not pleasant ones. Apparently his empire-wide programme of heavy taxation was particularly vexing to the people of Caesarea Paneas, and his relationship with the rabbis in the area less than congenial.

The following strange story appears in the Midrash Rabbah: The emperor Diocletian was [originally] a swineherd near Tiberias. Whenever he came near a school, children would come out and beat him. When R. Samuel b. Nahman went down to bathe, he saw a Rabbi standing before his academy with his face all pale.

On inquiring why he was so pale he told him of the letters sent him by the emperor. Rabbi wished to scold him, but R. Then let the gates be closed, he ordered. Thereupon he [the sprite] took them and set them upon the rampart of the town.

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Caesarea Philippi and the Gates of Hell

Having now become the emperor, and living in Paneas, the emperor summons the rabbi, intent on exacting vengeance. Banias is described as a fortified city, with ramparts and gates, but these may be no more than literary devices. At the most, there may be here the dim memory of a visit to Banias by the emperor Diocletian, and of some altercation that occurred between him and the local Jewish community during that visit. There are other hints of trouble between Diocletian and the citizenry of Banias, Jew and gentile alike. In fact, another rabbinical text, this time in the Palestinian Talmud, recalls just such a misfortune, and at the hands of this same Emperor Diocletian: Diocletian oppressed the inhabitants of Paneas.

And should you wish to test [this, my statement], take some deer and send them away to a far-off land, and in the end they will return to their place.