Archaeologists and students are excavating a rich motherlode of well-preserved remains at the site of the monumental city of Hippos, devastated by a massive eighth century C.E. earthquake that made it all possible.
A line of fallen ancient columns remain in place today, undisturbed, configured exactly where they fell after a massive, devastating earthquake destroyed this city on January 18th, 749 C.E. They appear as though the event had happened only yesterday.
Known as Antiochia Hippos (Hippos meaning "horse", or Hebrew Sussita, also meaning "horse"), its ruins are perched atop Sussita Mountain, an isolated table-top mountain that overlooks the eastern bank of Lake Kinneret (the Sea of Galilee) in present-day Israel. Established initially by the Seleucids as a Greco-Roman enclave, it once controlled two port facilities on the lake and its surrounding countryside. Hippos was part of the "Decapolis", a group of ten cities in Roman Palestine that were maintained as Greco-Roman cultural islands in the Near East. The damage the earthquake caused Hippos was so severe that its citizens abandoned it, never to return again. This left it to the ages with no succeeding settlement and, coupled with its relative isolation and enduring basaltic construction, preserved it much like it was left in the 8th century for 20th century archaeologists to explore. Since the year 2000, a team of archaeologists, specialists, students and volunteers under Professor Arthur Segal and Dr. Michael Eisenberg of the Zinman Institute of Archaeology, University of Haifa, have been excavating the site.