See also Hammath. Although the city was important to Josephus from the time he arrived in the Galilee, he had to fight several times against opponents in Tiberias. Stretched along the narrow beach on the western side of the Sea of Galilee, Tiberias was founded by Antipas as his new capital, as described by Josephus, probably about 18 CE. According to Josephus, the location was controversial because of an earlier cemetery on the site, and Antipas had to force new settlers to take up residence in the city by gifts of lands and houses; this account seems, however, exaggerated. Tiberias was the first Hellenistic city in the region designed for Jews: it had a typical Hellenistic city plan, an archon (“magistrate”), and a city council like other poleis (Richardson 1996: 306). Josephus provides literary evidence of a very large proseuchê (“synagogue”) in Tiberias (Life 277-93), but so far only remains of a later synagogue have been found (the “Northern Synagogue”). Josephus also refers to a large palace built by Antipas, decorated with animals and a roof partly of gold, which Josephus had been commissioned by Jerusalem to destroy (Life 64-67); the palace was burned and looted, according to Josephus, before he could destroy it. In 61 CE the city was annexed to Agrippa II’s territory.<br>Some areas of the ancient city have been unearthed, but as with Sepphoris, there are no final reports. On the southern edge of the ancient city, a monumental gate was found, dated to the first century CE (G. Foerster in NEAEHL 4:1470-73). The gate, composed of two large round towers with molded bases and a large threshold, was the southern entrance to the paved and colonnaded Cardo (first or second century), but there was no wall attached to the gate. Only during the Byzantine period was such a wall built. In the first century the gate stood alone, with some distance between it and the main parts of the city. An Early-Roman drainage system (along with Early-Roman pottery, marble fragments, and coins) was found in Area D1, 200 m. North of the gate. In the center of the ancient city, remains of a basilica (second-century in its early stage, Byzantine-period in its later stage) were found, a large columned hall with apse on the east wall. Under and around the basilica’s remains were the remains of a large luxurious mansion, dated to the first century CE. A Roman-period public building with ashlar walls and a stepped pool that may have functioned as a mikveh has been provisionally identified as a Beth ha-Midrash from, perhaps, the second century. In fill below its floor were found a number of stoneware fragments (Y. Hirschfeld in NEAEHL 4:1464-1470). A segment of a huge ashlar construction was found on the western side of the city, identified by Hirschfeld as the theater. A later bathhouse (first phase, fourth century CE) and large market (sixth century CE) have been partially excavated along the Cardo west of the basilica, along with a large exedra, south of the basilica, that fronted on a promenade along the sea. The estimated size of the city in the first century was 70 dunams (7 hectares; 17 acres).<br> Tombs. A two-storied Roman tomb (8 x 10 m.) Was excavated in 1976 on the lower slope of the mountain, surrounded by a basalt ashlar wall. The tomb was fronted by a paved courtyard, reached by masonry steps, and the entrance closed by a paneled basalt slab door with an iron hinge. There were two burial chambers, one at courtyard level (with 28 loculi in two rows) with a surrounding bench and the other below ground level, with plastered floor and walls and ceiling supported by three arches. One ossuary was found. Small finds dated the tomb to the late-first/early-second century (F. Vitto in NEAEHL 4:1473). Two mausolea excavated in the northern part of the city yielded both sarcophagi and stone ossuaries (Stephansky 1999).<br>Coins and small finds. Like Sepphoris, Tiberias under Herod Antipas minted coins without figurative symbols. After the Revolt the coins depicted the Emperors, gods and facades of pagan temples (e.g., a Hadrianeum). Below the Roman public building was found a bone figurine of a woman, along with fragments of stone vessels and a stepped pool paved with a mosaic. A number of other mosaics were found in the various structures, all relatively late (e.g., in the northern synagogue, there was a sixth century (?) Building inscription, “Proclus, son of Crispus, built it”).

Originally two separate communities with separate city walls, Hammath and Tiberias were probably united by the time of Josephus. The hot springs attracted a settlement as early as the first century BCE, though the spring itself must have been known earlier (Life 16, 85; Pliny Natural History 5.15). Following the Jewish War, the two were thought of as two parts of one city (Dothan 1983:3-5). Tiberias subsequently became a great center of rabbinic learning, and is frequently referred to in Mishnah and Talmud. The site is best known for its three successive synagogues, especially the intermediate one with the magnificent mosaic floor and associated inscriptions (first quarter of the fourth century CE); the earlier synagogue is first half of the third century CE)<br> Hot water conduits and reservoirs (possibly first century BCE) were found near the spring. The earliest period of occupation of the site, evidenced archaeologically below the synagogue, was Seleucid and Hasmonean, possibly sometime between Antiochus IV and Alexander Janneus. Clearly stratified wall remains (Stratum IV), pottery, coins, and a loom weight cohere in this conclusion, though the purpose of the building is not clear. There may have been a gap in occupation, after which in Stratum III a large public building occupied the same site (approximately 20-130 CE; the later synagogues prevented complete exposure of the building). Two Attic column bases and two column drums, perhaps from this public building were found in debris in Stratum II. What can be recovered of plan and details have suggested to the excavators that it may have been a palaestra (or gymnasium), associated with the hot springs, possibly from the Herodian period. The structure centered on a courtyard (surfaced with soft sand-like fill), around which a combination of small and large rooms was organized, with floors of beaten earth or basalt. There may have been a second floor.<br> The finds included some Eastern Sigillata A ware (late-first century BCE to mid-first century CE), a late-Hellenistic/early-Roman cooking pot, Herodian/early-Roman jugs and juglets, Herodian lamps, and a molded and decorated glass kantharos (rosettes with six petals and two leaves; see Dothan 1983: plate 5; plate 36.4). Coins from Herod to Trajan were associated with this stratum. Debris from the Stratum III building was used as fill for the later synagogue of Stratum IIB. When compared to the hot springs at Hammat Gader, which did not attract buildings until the second century CE (Hirschfeld 1997:4-13), the spring at Hammath Tiberias is noteworthy for having structures ancillary to the spring at an earlier period, and possibly having attracted a palaestra (Dothan 1983:10-19). The sequence of palaestra or gymnasium and synagogue is paralleled much later at Sardis.