Beit She’an is one of the oldest cities in Israel. The elevated mound of Tel Beit She’an (Tel el-Husn) contains the remains of the Canaanite and Egyptian cities. Classical Roman and Byzantine Beit She’an descended to the foot of the mound (tel). If only for the phenomenal panoramic view of the classical city below, it is worthy of the effort to climb the mound. Don’t forget to photograph the Judas Tree.
Panorama from Tel Beit She’an over Roman and Byzantine Beit She’an
Beit She’an had all the necessary ingredients for an ancient city. It was built on a hill, rising above the banks of the perennial stream of Nahal Harod, surrounded by fertile agricultural land and at the junction of major ancient roads. Beit Shan played an important role in history due to its location at the junction of the Jordan River Valley and the Jezreel Valley. This Roman metropolis was home to 30,000 to 40,000 citizens and covered approximately 370 acres. Archaeological excavations have revealed no less than 18 – 20 successive ancient towns. First settled in the fifth millennium B.C.E., the city was ruled by countless different rulers including the Egyptians, the Israelites, the Greeks, the Hasmoneans, the Romans and Arabs.
This is a city of many names: Canaanite Beit Shan, Israelite Beit She’an, Hellenic Scythopolis later re-named Nysa-Scythopolis, Tel el-Husn, Tel el-Hosn, Arabic Beisan or Bisan and back the present Hebrew name Beit She’an as in the Bible. Whichever name, it means “House of Tranquility”.
Tour Guide students in Roman Latrine
Public latrines date back to the 2nd century BC. Whether intentionally or not, they became places to socialise. Long bench-like seats with keyhole-shaped openings cut in rows offered little privacy. Some latrines were free, for others small charges were made.
Panorama of Tel Etz’taba
Tel Etz’taba [Shelf Mound] is the part of the city of Beit She’an north of Nahal Harod.
Shean Nights – Sound and Light Show
This incredible audio-visual presentation projects images of horse drawn carriages, Romans and buildings onto the stones, along the central street and on the theater stage. The “She’an Nights” presentation takes place Monday – Thursday from March 10 – end of October, every half hour from nightfall. Conditional on weather conditions and by advance arrangement. On other days of the week, tours for groups can be reserved by advance arrangement.
Bet She’an National Park
Tel Beit She’an also boasts a vast national park of archeology – the Bet She’an National Park – with restored ruins of the 7,000-seat Roman theater, Byzantine bathhouse, decorative fountain, colonnaded streets and gladiator amphitheater.
- *3639 She’an Nights – call between 8 am – 4 pm
- April-September: Saturday-Thursday 8am-5pm, Friday 8am-4pm
- October-March: 8am-4pm
Entrance fee: required.
Pets: Dogs may not be brought into the park
Length of visit: 2 – 4 hours
Accessibility: There is partial wheelchair access to the site.