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Arabic: jirash

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Jerash, Jordan
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The South Theatre.

Jerash, Jordan
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The one-of-a-kind oval plaza.

Jerash, Jordan
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Entry to the Temple of Artemis.

Jerash, Jordan
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Gateway to the Temple of Artemis.

Standing on top of the Temple of Zeus, looking at the oval plaza opening into the colonnaded street.

Town in northwestern Jordan with 32,000 inhabitants (2005 estimate). It is the capital of the Jerash Governorate with an area of 410 km² and 170,000 inhabitants (2005 estimate).
Modern Jerash, being a small town, is mainly involved in agriculture and administration of the governorate.
Jerash is well connected to other urban centres of Jordan by road, despite being in a mountainous part of the country.
Modern Jerash is to the east of the ruins. Ancient Jerash is among the best preserved examples of a Roman provincial city in the Middle East, and has become the second most visited tourist attraction in the country. Still, little has been developed in terms of accommodation in Jerash, bringing little revenue to the town.
It was known under the Roman rule as Gerasa, and may have had about 25,000 inhabitants at the most. While that being less than the population of the present modest town, it served the needs of a far higher population in the hinterland. Among the main monuments of Gerasa were the Hadrian's Arch, a hippodrome, two great temples dedicated to Zeus and Artemis, an oval-shaped Forum, two baths. All of this indicate great wealth; most monuments were donated by the richest inhabitants of Gerasa.
From a later epoch belongs the 15 churches excavated so far, many with excellent mosaic floors. The 4th century cathedral is a probably only a church.
The majority of the inhabitants here are Circassians.

1600 BCE: The earliest traces of settlements at the site of Jerash.
170: During Hellenistic times, Gerasa is founded.
63: Rome conquers much of the lands of Palestine, including Gerasa. Gerasa is granted autonomy as part of the province of Syria, part of the league of ten cities, Decapolis.
106 CE: Becomes part of the Roman province of Arabia.
Early 2nd century: Gerasa is connected to the Roman road system, allowing growth in trade and wealth.
4th century: Jerash becomes largely a Christian town.
614: Persian invasion largely destroys Gerasa and the infrastructure of its economy.
636: After the Muslim Arabs beat the Byzantines in the region, Gerasa passes over to their control. From now on it is known as Jerash, an Arabification of Gerasa.
746: Heavy earthquake destroys much of Jerash.
1879: Circassian refugees are settled in Jerash, building most of the modern town.
1920's: Excavations are begun in Jerash.

By Tore Kjeilen