Caesarea Philippi should not be confused with Caesarea Maritima, on the Mediterranean, or modern Caesarea in Israel) or with Caesarea Mazaca in Cappadocia.

Banias (or Paneas; ; ; ) is an archaeological site by the ancient city of Caesarea Philippi, located at the foot of Mount Hermon
Mount Hermon
Mount Hermon is a mountain cluster in the Anti-Lebanon mountain range. Its summit straddles the border between Syria and Lebanon and, at 2,814 m above sea level, is the highest point in Syria. On the top there is “Hermon Hotel”, in the buffer zone between Syria and Israeli-occupied...

 in the Golan Heights. The city was located within the region known as the "Panion" (the region of the Greek god Pan
Pan (mythology)
Pan , in Greek religion and mythology, is the god of the wild, shepherds and flocks, nature, of mountain wilds, hunting and rustic music, as well as the companion of the nymphs. His name originates within the Greek language, from the word paein , meaning "to pasture." He has the hindquarters, legs,...

), and is named after the deity associated with the grotto and shrines close to the spring called "Paneas".

The temenos
Temenos is a piece of land cut off and assigned as an official domain, especially to kings and chiefs, or a piece of land marked off from common uses and dedicated to a god, a sanctuary, holy grove or holy precinct: The Pythian race-course is called a temenos, the sacred valley of the Nile is the ...

(sacred precinct) included a temple, courtyards, a grotto and niches for rituals, and was dedicated to Pan. It was constructed on an elevated, 80m long natural terrace along the cliff which towered over the north of the city. A four-line inscription at the base of one of the niches relates to Pan and Echo
Echo (mythology)
In Greek mythology, Ekho , "echo", itself from ἦχος , "sound") was an Oread who loved her own voice. Zeus loved consorting with beautiful nymphs and visited them on Earth often. Eventually, Zeus's wife, Hera, became suspicious, and came from Mt...

, the mountain nymph, and was dated to 87 CE.

In the distant past, a giant spring gushed from a cave set in the limestone
Limestone is a sedimentary rock composed largely of the minerals calcite and aragonite, which are different crystal forms of calcium carbonate . Many limestones are composed from skeletal fragments of marine organisms such as coral or foraminifera....

 bedrock, to tumble down the valley and flow into the Hula marshes. Currently it is the source of the Nahal Hermon stream. Whereas the Jordan River previously rose from the malaria
Malaria is a mosquito-borne infectious disease of humans and other animals caused by eukaryotic protists of the genus Plasmodium. The disease results from the multiplication of Plasmodium parasites within red blood cells, causing symptoms that typically include fever and headache, in severe cases...

-infested Hula marshes, it now rises from this spring and two others at the base of Mount Hermon. The flow of the spring has decreased greatly in modern times. The water no longer gushes forth from the cave, but only seeps from the bedrock below it.

Pagan associations

Paneas was first settled in the Hellenistic
Hellenistic civilization
Hellenistic civilization represents the zenith of Greek influence in the ancient world from 323 BCE to about 146 BCE...

 period following Alexander the Great's conquest of the east. The Ptolemaic
Ptolemaic Kingdom
The Ptolemaic Kingdom in and around Egypt began following Alexander the Great's conquest in 332 BC and ended with the death of Cleopatra VII and the Roman conquest in 30 BC. It was founded when Ptolemy I Soter declared himself Pharaoh of Egypt, creating a powerful Hellenistic state stretching from...

 kings, in the 3rd century BC, built a cult centre there.
Panias is a spring, known also as Fanium, named for the Arcadia
Arcadia is one of the regional units of Greece. It is part of the administrative region of Peloponnese. It is situated in the central and eastern part of the Peloponnese peninsula. It takes its name from the mythological character Arcas. In Greek mythology, it was the home of the god Pan...

n Pan
Pan (mythology)
Pan , in Greek religion and mythology, is the god of the wild, shepherds and flocks, nature, of mountain wilds, hunting and rustic music, as well as the companion of the nymphs. His name originates within the Greek language, from the word paein , meaning "to pasture." He has the hindquarters, legs,...

, the Greek god, a goat-footed god of victory in battle [creator of panic in the enemy], isolated rural areas, music, goat herds, hunting, herding, and of sexual and spiritual possession. It lies close to the fabled 'way of the sea' mentioned by Isaiah. along which many armies of Antiquity marched. Paneas was certainly an ancient place of great sanctity, and when Hellenised religious
Hellenic polytheism
Hellenic Polytheistic Reconstructionism refers to various reconstructionist movements that revive ancient Greek religious practices, emerging since the 1990s. Since 1997 the movement in Greece has been institutionalized under the Supreme Council of Ethnikoi Hellenes...

 influences began to overlay the region, the cult of its local numen
Numen is a Latin term for a potential, guiding the course of events in a particular place or in the whole world, used in Roman philosophical and religious thought...

 gave place to the worship of Pan, to whom the cave was therefore dedicated. The pre-Hellenic deity associated with the site was variously called Ba'al-gad
Baʿal is a Northwest Semitic title and honorific meaning "master" or "lord" that is used for various gods who were patrons of cities in the Levant and Asia Minor, cognate to Akkadian Bēlu...

 or Ba'al-hermon.

In extant sections of the Greek historian Polybius
Polybius , Greek ) was a Greek historian of the Hellenistic Period noted for his work, The Histories, which covered the period of 220–146 BC in detail. The work describes in part the rise of the Roman Republic and its gradual domination over Greece...

's history of 'The Rise of the Roman Empire', a Battle of Panium
Battle of Panium
The Battle of Panium was fought in 200 BC between Seleucid and Ptolemaic forces as part of the Syrian Wars. The Seleucids were led by Antiochus III the Great, while the Ptolemaic army was led by Scopas of Aetolia. The Seleucids won the battle...

 is mentioned. This battle was fought in 198 BC between the Macedon
Macedonia or Macedon was an ancient kingdom, centered in the northeastern part of the Greek peninsula, bordered by Epirus to the west, Paeonia to the north, the region of Thrace to the east and Thessaly to the south....

ian armies of Ptolemaic Egypt and the Seleucid Greeks of Coele-Syria
Coele-Syria , or Cœle-Syria or Celesyria, traditionally given the meaning 'hollow' Syria, was the region of southern Syria disputed between the Seleucid dynasty and the Ptolemaic dynasty. Rather than limiting the Greek term to the Beqaa Valley of Lebanon, it is often used to cover the entire area...

, led by Antiochus III. Antiochus's victory cemented Seleucid control over Phoenicia
Phoenicia , was an ancient civilization in Canaan which covered most of the western, coastal part of the Fertile Crescent. Several major Phoenician cities were built on the coastline of the Mediterranean. It was an enterprising maritime trading culture that spread across the Mediterranean from 1550...

, Galilee
Galilee , is a large region in northern Israel which overlaps with much of the administrative North District of the country. Traditionally divided into Upper Galilee , Lower Galilee , and Western Galilee , extending from Dan to the north, at the base of Mount Hermon, along Mount Lebanon to the...

, Samaria
Samaria, or the Shomron is a term used for a mountainous region roughly corresponding to the northern part of the West Bank.- Etymology :...

, and Judea
Judea or Judæa was the name of the mountainous southern part of the historic Land of Israel from the 8th century BCE to the 2nd century CE, when Roman Judea was renamed Syria Palaestina following the Jewish Bar Kokhba revolt.-Etymology:The...

 until the Maccabean revolt. It was these hellenised Seleucids who built a pagan temple dedicated to Pan at Paneas.


Herodian city

Upon Zenodorus
Zenodorus son of Lysanias
Zenodorus was the ruler of a small principality in the vicinity of Damascus described by Josephus as the "house of Lysanias", 23-20 BCE. Though Josephus doesn't seem to know it, Zenodorus was actually the son of Lysanias, for a funerary inscription found at Heliopolis was dedicated to "Zenodorus...

's death in 20 BC, the Panion , including Paneas, was annexed to the Kingdom of Herod the Great
Herod the Great
Herod , also known as Herod the Great , was a Roman client king of Judea. His epithet of "the Great" is widely disputed as he is described as "a madman who murdered his own family and a great many rabbis." He is also known for his colossal building projects in Jerusalem and elsewhere, including his...

. Herod erected a temple of 'white marble' in Paneas in honour of his patron. In 3 BCE, Philip II (also known as Philip the Tetrarch) founded a city at Paneas, which became the administrative capital of Philip's large tetrarchy
The term Tetrarchy describes any system of government where power is divided among four individuals, but usually refers to the tetrarchy instituted by Roman Emperor Diocletian in 293, marking the end of the Crisis of the Third Century and the recovery of the Roman Empire...

 of Batanaea
Batanaea or Batanea was an area of the Biblical Holy Land, north-east of the Jordan River, to the east of Trachonitis. It was one of the four post-Exile divisions of the area of Bashan...

, encompassing the Golan and the Hauran
Hauran, , also spelled Hawran or Houran, is a volcanic plateau, a geographic area and a people located in southwestern Syria and extending into the northwestern corner of Jordan. It gets its name from the Aramaic Hawran, meaning "cave land." In geographic and geomorphic terms, its boundaries...

. In his Antiquities of the Jews
Antiquities of the Jews
Antiquities of the Jews is a twenty volume historiographical work composed by the Jewish historian Flavius Josephus in the thirteenth year of the reign of Roman emperor Flavius Domitian which was around 93 or 94 AD. Antiquities of the Jews contains an account of history of the Jewish people,...

, Flavius Josephus refers to the city as Caesarea Paneas; the New Testament
New Testament
The New Testament is the second major division of the Christian biblical canon, the first such division being the much longer Old Testament....

 as Caesarea Philippi, to distinguish it from Caesarea Maritima on the Mediterranean coast. In 14 CE Philip II named it Caesarea (in honour of the Roman
Roman Empire
The Roman Empire was the post-Republican period of the ancient Roman civilization, characterised by an autocratic form of government and large territorial holdings in Europe and around the Mediterranean....

 Emperor Caesar Augustus
Augustus ;23 September 63 BC – 19 August AD 14) is considered the first emperor of the Roman Empire, which he ruled alone from 27 BC until his death in 14 AD.The dates of his rule are contemporary dates; Augustus lived under two calendars, the Roman Republican until 45 BC, and the Julian...

) and 'made improvements' to the city. His image was placed on a coin issued in 29/30 CE to commemorate the city's foundation. This was considered as idolatrous by Jews, but followed in the Idumean
Edom or Idumea was a historical region of the Southern Levant located south of Judea and the Dead Sea. It is mentioned in biblical records as a 1st millennium BC Iron Age kingdom of Edom, and in classical antiquity the cognate name Idumea was used to refer to a smaller area in the same region...

 tradition of Zenodorus.

On the death of Philip II in 34 CE the tetrachy
Tetrarchy (Judea)
The Tetrarchy of Judea was formed following the death of Herod the Great in 4 BCE, when his kingdom was divided between his sons as an inheritance...

 was incorporated into the province of Syria
Syria (Roman province)
Syria was a Roman province, annexed in 64 BC by Pompey, as a consequence of his military presence after pursuing victory in the Third Mithridatic War. It remained under Roman, and subsequently Byzantine, rule for seven centuries, until 637 when it fell to the Islamic conquests.- Principate :The...

 with the city given the autonomy to administer its own revenues.

In 61 CE, king Agrippa II
Agrippa II
Agrippa II , son of Agrippa I, and like him originally named Marcus Julius Agrippa, was the seventh and last king of the family of Herod the Great, thus last of the Herodians. He was the brother of Berenice, Mariamne, and Drusilla...

 renamed the administrative capital Neronias in honour of the Roman emperor Nero
Nero , was Roman Emperor from 54 to 68, and the last in the Julio-Claudian dynasty. Nero was adopted by his great-uncle Claudius to become his heir and successor, and succeeded to the throne in 54 following Claudius' death....

, but this name was discarded several years later, in 68 CE. Agrippa also carried out urban improvements

During the First Jewish–Roman War, Vespasian
Vespasian , was Roman Emperor from 69 AD to 79 AD. Vespasian was the founder of the Flavian dynasty, which ruled the Empire for a quarter century. Vespasian was descended from a family of equestrians, who rose into the senatorial rank under the Emperors of the Julio-Claudian dynasty...

 rested his troops at Caesarea Philippi over July 67 CE, holding games for a period of 20 days before advancing on Tiberias to crush the Jewish resistance in Galilee.

Gospel association

In the Synoptic Gospels
Synoptic Gospels
The gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke are known as the Synoptic Gospels because they include many of the same stories, often in the same sequence, and sometimes exactly the same wording. This degree of parallelism in content, narrative arrangement, language, and sentence structures can only be...

, Jesus
Jesus of Nazareth , commonly referred to as Jesus Christ or simply as Jesus or Christ, is the central figure of Christianity...

 is said to have approached the area near the city, but without entering the city itself. While in this area, he asked his closest disciples who men thought him to be. Accounts of their answers, including the Confession of Peter, are to be found in the Matthew
Gospel of Matthew
The Gospel According to Matthew is one of the four canonical gospels, one of the three synoptic gospels, and the first book of the New Testament. It tells of the life, ministry, death, and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth...

, Mark
Gospel of Mark
The Gospel According to Mark , commonly shortened to the Gospel of Mark or simply Mark, is the second book of the New Testament. This canonical account of the life of Jesus of Nazareth is one of the three synoptic gospels. It was thought to be an epitome, which accounts for its place as the second...

, and Luke
Gospel of Luke
The Gospel According to Luke , commonly shortened to the Gospel of Luke or simply Luke, is the third and longest of the four canonical Gospels. This synoptic gospel is an account of the life and ministry of Jesus of Nazareth. It details his story from the events of his birth to his Ascension.The...

, as well as in the Gospel of Thomas
Gospel of Thomas
The Gospel According to Thomas, commonly shortened to the Gospel of Thomas, is a well preserved early Christian, non-canonical sayings-gospel discovered near Nag Hammadi, Egypt, in December 1945, in one of a group of books known as the Nag Hammadi library...


In the Gospel of Mark, they replied that Jesus was thought to be John the Baptist, Elias, or some other prophet, although Saint Peter
Saint Peter
Saint Peter or Simon Peter was an early Christian leader, who is featured prominently in the New Testament Gospels and the Acts of the Apostles. The son of John or of Jonah and from the village of Bethsaida in the province of Galilee, his brother Andrew was also an apostle...

 gave his own view and confessed his belief that Jesus was the messiah (Christ). Jesus predicted his destiny, for which Peter rebuked him. In Matthew, Peter's expression of belief that Jesus was the Messiah is the occasion for Jesus designating Peter's confession as the rock on which the Church was to be built—the fact that Jesus is the Christ. In Luke, the site where this is said to have occurred is located near Bethsaida
Bethsaida is a place mentioned in the New Testament.- Bethsaida Julias :...

, after the Sermon on the Mount
Sermon on the Mount
The Sermon on the Mount is a collection of sayings and teachings of Jesus, which emphasizes his moral teaching found in the Gospel of Matthew...

, and Peter affirms his belief Jesus is 'the Christ of God'. In all three gospels, the apostles are asked to keep this revelation as secret.

A woman from Paneas, who had been bleeding for 12 years, is said to have been miraculously cured by Jesus
Jesus of Nazareth , commonly referred to as Jesus Christ or simply as Jesus or Christ, is the central figure of Christianity...

. According to tradition, after she had been cured, she had a statue of Christ
Christ is the English term for the Greek meaning "the anointed one". It is a translation of the Hebrew , usually transliterated into English as Messiah or Mashiach...



On attaining the position of Emperor of the Roman Empire in 361 Julian the Apostate
Julian the Apostate
Julian "the Apostate" , commonly known as Julian, or also Julian the Philosopher, was Roman Emperor from 361 to 363 and a noted philosopher and Greek writer....

 instigated a religious reformation of the Roman state, as part of a programme intended to restore its lost grandeur, pagan character and strength. He supported the restoration of Hellenic paganism as the state religion. In Paneas this was achieved by replacing Christian symbols. The history of Sozomen
Salminius Hermias Sozomenus was a historian of the Christian church.-Family and Home:He was born around 400 in Bethelia, a small town near Gaza, into a wealthy Christian family of Palestine....

 contains a description of the circumstances surrounding the replacement of a statue of Christ:
'Having heard that at Casarea Philippi, otherwise called Panease Paneades, a city of Phoenicia, there was a celebrated statue of Christ, which had been erected by a woman whom the Lord had cured of a flow of blood. Julian commanded it to be taken down, and a statue of himself erected in its place; but a violent fire from the heaven fell upon it, and broke off the parts contiguous to the breast; the head and neck were thrown prostrate, and it was transfixed to the ground with the face downwards at the point where the fracture of the bust was; and it has stood in that fashion from that day until now, full of the rust of the lightning.'


In 635 Paneas gained favourable terms of surrender from the Muslim army of Khalid ibn al-Walid
Khalid ibn al-Walid
Khālid ibn al-Walīd also known as Sayf Allāh al-Maslūl , was a companion of the Islamic prophet Muhammad. He is noted for his military tactics and prowess, commanding the forces of Medina and those of his immediate successors of the Rashidun Caliphate; Abu Bakr and Umar...

 after it had defeated Heraclius’s
Heraclius was Byzantine Emperor from 610 to 641.He was responsible for introducing Greek as the empire's official language. His rise to power began in 608, when he and his father, Heraclius the Elder, the exarch of Africa, successfully led a revolt against the unpopular usurper Phocas.Heraclius'...

 forces. In 636 a, second, newly formed Byzantine army advancing on Palestine used Paneas as a staging post on the way to confront the Muslim army at Yarmuk
Battle of Yarmouk
The Battle of Yarmouk was a major battle between the Muslim Arab forces of the Rashidun Caliphate and the armies of the East Roman-Byzantine Empire. The battle consisted of a series of engagements that lasted for six days in August 636, near the Yarmouk River, along what is today the border...


The depopulation of Paneas after the Muslim conquest was rapid, as its traditional markets disappeared. Only 14 of the 173 Byzantine sites in the area show signs of habitation from this period. The hellenised city thus fell into a precipitous decline. At the council of al-Jabiyah, when the administration of the new territory of the Umar Caliphate
Rashidun Caliphate
The Rashidun Caliphate , comprising the first four caliphs in Islam's history, was founded after Muhammad's death in 632, Year 10 A.H.. At its height, the Caliphate extended from the Arabian Peninsula, to the Levant, Caucasus and North Africa in the west, to the Iranian highlands and Central Asia...

 was established, Paneas remained the principal city of the district of al-Djawlan (the Golan) in the jund (military Province) of Dimshq (Damascus
Damascus , commonly known in Syria as Al Sham , and as the City of Jasmine , is the capital and the second largest city of Syria after Aleppo, both are part of the country's 14 governorates. In addition to being one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world, Damascus is a major...

), due to its strategic military importance on the border with Filistin (Palestine
Palestine is a conventional name, among others, used to describe the geographic region between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River, and various adjoining lands....


Around 780 CE the nun Hugeburc
Hygeburg , also Hugeburc or Huneberc, was an Anglo-Saxon nun at the Abbey of Heidenheim in Germany.Hygeburg was the author of a life of Willibald, the Vita S. Willibaldi, written at some time between 767 and 778. She also produced a life of Willibald's brother Wynnebald, who had been Abbot of...

 visited Caesarea and reported that the town 'had' a church and a great many Christians, but her account does not clarify whether any of those Christians were still living in the town at the time of her visit.

The transfer of the Abbasid Caliphate
The term caliphate, "dominion of a caliph " , refers to the first system of government established in Islam and represented the political unity of the Muslim Ummah...

 capital from Damascus to Baghdad
Baghdad is the capital of Iraq, as well as the coterminous Baghdad Governorate. The population of Baghdad in 2011 is approximately 7,216,040...

 inaugurated the flowering of the Islamic Golden Age
Islamic Golden Age
During the Islamic Golden Age philosophers, scientists and engineers of the Islamic world contributed enormously to technology and culture, both by preserving earlier traditions and by adding their own inventions and innovations...

 at the expense of the provinces. With the decline of Abbasid power in the tenth century, Paneas found itself a provincial backwater in a slowly collapsing empire, as district governors began to exert greater autonomy and used their increasing power to make their positions hereditary. The control of Syria and Paneas passed to the Fatimids of Egypt.

At the end of the 9th century Al-Ya'qubi reaffirms that Paneas was still the capital of al-Djawlan in the jund of Dimshq, although by then the town was known as Madīnat al-Askat (city of the tribes) with its inhabitants being Qays, mostly of the Banu Murra with some Yamani families.

Due to the Byzantine advances under Nicephorus Phocas
Nikephoros II
Nikephoros II Phokas was a Byzantine Emperor whose brilliant military exploits contributed to the resurgence of Byzantine Empire in the tenth century.-Early exploits:...

 and John Zimisces
John I Tzimiskes
John I Tzimiskes or Tzimisces, was Byzantine Emperor from December 11, 969 to January 10, 976. A brilliant and intuitive general, John's short reign saw the expansion of the empire's borders and the strengthening of Byzantium itself.- Background :...

 into the Abbasid empire, a wave of refugees fled south and augmented the population of Madīnat al-Askat. The city was taken over by an extreme Shī‘ah sect of the Bedouin
The Bedouin are a part of a predominantly desert-dwelling Arab ethnic group traditionally divided into tribes or clans, known in Arabic as ..-Etymology:...

The Qarmatians were a Shi'a Ismaili group centered in eastern Arabia, where they attempted to established a utopian republic in 899 CE. They are most famed for their revolt against the Abbasid Caliphate...

 in 968. In 970 the Fatimids again briefly took control, only to lose it again to the Qarāmita. The old population of Banias along with the new refugees formed a Sunni sufi
Sufism or ' is defined by its adherents as the inner, mystical dimension of Islam. A practitioner of this tradition is generally known as a '...

 ascetic community. In 975 the Fatimid al-'Aziz
Abu Mansoor Nizar al-Aziz Billah
Al-Aziz was the fifth Caliph of the Fatimids .- History :Since Abdallah, the heir to the throne, had died before his father Ma'ad al-Muizz Li-Deenillah , his brother Abu Mansur Nizar al-Azizbillah acceded to the Caliphate with the help of Jawhar as-Siqilli...

 wrested control in an attempt to subdue the anti-Fatimid agitation of Mahammad b. Ahmad al-Nablusi and his followers and to extend Fatimid control into Syria. al-Nabulusi’s school of hadith
The term Hadīth is used to denote a saying or an act or tacit approval or criticism ascribed either validly or invalidly to the Islamic prophet Muhammad....

was to survive in Banias under the tutelage of Arab scholars such as Abú Ishaq (Ibrahim b. Hatim) and al-Balluti.


The Crusaders'
First Crusade
The First Crusade was a military expedition by Western Christianity to regain the Holy Lands taken in the Muslim conquest of the Levant, ultimately resulting in the recapture of Jerusalem...

 arrival in 1099 quickly split the mosaic of semi-independent cities of the Seljuk
Great Seljuq Empire
The Great Seljuq Empire was a medieval Persianate, Turko-Persian Sunni Muslim empire, originating from the Qynyq branch of Oghuz Turks. The Seljuq Empire controlled a vast area stretching from the Hindu Kush to eastern Anatolia and from Central Asia to the Persian Gulf...

 Kingdom of Damascus. Baniyas was liberated by the crusaders in 1148.

With the arrival of fresh troops in Palestine, King Baldwin
Baldwin III of Jerusalem
Baldwin III was king of Jerusalem from 1143 to 1163. He was the eldest son of Melisende and Fulk of Jerusalem, and the grandson of Baldwin II of Jerusalem.-Succession:...

 broke the three month old truce of February 1157 by raiding the large flocks that the Turkomans
Oghuz Turks
The Turkomen also known as Oghuz Turks were a historical Turkic tribal confederation in Central Asia during the early medieval Turkic expansion....

 had pastured in the area of Caesarea Philippi (Baniyas). In 1157 Baniyas became the principal centre of Humphrey of Toron's
Humphrey II of Toron
Humphrey II of Toron was lord of Toron and constable of the Kingdom of Jerusalem.Humphrey had become lord of Toron sometime before 1140, when he married the daughter of Renier Brus, lord of Banias . Through this marriage Banias was added to Toron...

 crusader fiefdom, along with him being the constable
Officers of the Kingdom of Jerusalem
There were six major officers of the kingdom of Jerusalem: the constable, the marshal, the seneschal, the chamberlain , the butler and the chancellor...

 of the Kingdom of Jerusalem
Kingdom of Jerusalem
The Kingdom of Jerusalem was a Catholic kingdom established in the Levant in 1099 after the First Crusade. The kingdom lasted nearly two hundred years, from 1099 until 1291 when the last remaining possession, Acre, was destroyed by the Mamluks, but its history is divided into two distinct periods....

, after it had first been granted to the Hospitallers
Knights Hospitaller
The Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of Saint John of Jerusalem of Rhodes and of Malta , also known as the Sovereign Military Order of Malta , Order of Malta or Knights of Malta, is a Roman Catholic lay religious order, traditionally of military, chivalrous, noble nature. It is the world's...

 by King Baldwin. The Knights Hospitallers, having fallen into an ambush, relinquished the fiefdom. Humphrey in turn was besieged in Baniyas and King Baldwin was able to break the siege, only to be ambushed at Jacob's ford in June 1157. The fresh troops arriving from Antioch
Antioch on the Orontes was an ancient city on the eastern side of the Orontes River. It is near the modern city of Antakya, Turkey.Founded near the end of the 4th century BC by Seleucus I Nicator, one of Alexander the Great's generals, Antioch eventually rivaled Alexandria as the chief city of the...

 and Tripoli were able to relieve the besieged crusaders. within the Lordship of Beirut
Beirut is the capital and largest city of Lebanon, with a population ranging from 1 million to more than 2 million . Located on a peninsula at the midpoint of Lebanon's Mediterranean coastline, it serves as the country's largest and main seaport, and also forms the Beirut Metropolitan...

. It was captured by Nūr ed-Din on 18 November 1164.ʻIzz al-Dīn Ibn al-Athīr (Translated 2006) The Chronicle of Ibn Al-Athīr for the Crusading Period from Al-Kāmil Fīʼl-taʼrīkh: The Years AH 491-541/1097-1146, the Coming of the Franks And the Muslim Response Translated by Donald Sidney Richards Ashgate Publishing, Ltd. ISBN 0754640787 pp 148-149 The Franks had built a castle at Hunin
Margaliot is a moshav in the Upper Galilee in northern Israel, located along the border with Lebanon, near the town of Kiryat Shmona. It is part of the Mevo'ot HaHermon Regional Council...

, (Château Neuf) in 1107 to protect the trade route from Damascus to Tyre. After Nūr ed-Din's ousting of the Crusader Humphrey of Toron
Humphrey I of Toron
Humphrey I of Toron , a Norman, appears initially in 1115 as a vassal of Josselin de Courtenay, prince of Tiberias; the castle at Toron having been built in the years after 1105, he most likely was its lord from that date, having taken part in the First Crusade.He was the father of Humphrey II of...

 from Baniyas, Hunin was at the front line securing the border defences against the Saracen
Saracen was a term used by the ancient Romans to refer to a people who lived in desert areas in and around the Roman province of Arabia, and who were distinguished from Arabs. In Europe during the Middle Ages the term was expanded to include Arabs, and then all who professed the religion of Islam...

 garrison at Baniyas.

Ibn Jubayr
Ibn Jubayr
Ibn Jubayr was a geographer, traveler and poet from al-Andalus.-Early life:Born in Valencia in Spain, then the seat of an independent emirate. Ibn Jubayr was descendant of a tribe of Andalusian origins, Jubayr was the son of a civil servant...

 the geographer, traveller and poet from al-Andalus
Al-Andalus was the Arabic name given to a nation and territorial region also commonly referred to as Moorish Iberia. The name describes parts of the Iberian Peninsula and Septimania governed by Muslims , at various times in the period between 711 and 1492, although the territorial boundaries...

 described Baniyas:
This city is a frontier fortress of the Muslims. It is small, but has a castle, round which, under the walls flows a stream. This stream flows out from the town by one of the gates, and turns a mill…The town has broad arable lands in the adjacent plain. Commanding the town is the fortress, still belonging to the franks, called Hunin, which lies 3 leagues distant from Baniyas. The lands in the plain belong half to the franks and half to the Muslims; and there is here the boundary called Hadd al Mukasimah-“the boundary of the dividing.” The Muslims and the franks apportion the crops equally between them, and their cattle mingle freely without fear of any being stolen.”

After the death of Nūr ed-Din in May 1174 King Amaury
Amalric I of Jerusalem
Amalric I of Jerusalem was King of Jerusalem 1163–1174, and Count of Jaffa and Ascalon before his accession. Amalric was the second son of Melisende of Jerusalem and Fulk of Jerusalem...

 led the crusader forces in a siege of Baniyas. The Governor of Damascus
Damascus , commonly known in Syria as Al Sham , and as the City of Jasmine , is the capital and the second largest city of Syria after Aleppo, both are part of the country's 14 governorates. In addition to being one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world, Damascus is a major...

 allied himself with the crusaders and released all his Frankish prisoners
The Franks were a confederation of Germanic tribes first attested in the third century AD as living north and east of the Lower Rhine River. From the third to fifth centuries some Franks raided Roman territory while other Franks joined the Roman troops in Gaul. Only the Salian Franks formed a...

. With the death of King Amaury in July 1174 the crusader border became unstable. In 1177 king Baldwin IV of Jerusalem
Baldwin IV of Jerusalem
Baldwin IV of Jerusalem , called the Leper or the Leprous, the son of Amalric I of Jerusalem and his first wife, Agnes of Courtenay, was king of Jerusalem from 1174 to 1185. His full sister was Queen Sibylla of Jerusalem and his nephew through this sister was the child-king Baldwin V...

 ("the leper") laid siege
A siege is a military blockade of a city or fortress with the intent of conquering by attrition or assault. The term derives from sedere, Latin for "to sit". Generally speaking, siege warfare is a form of constant, low intensity conflict characterized by one party holding a strong, static...

 to Baniyas and again the crusader forces withdrew after receiving tribute from Samsan al-Din Ajuk, the Governor of Baniyas.

In 1179 al-Malik al-Nâsir Ṣalāḥ ad-Dīn Yūsuf ibn Ayyūb (Saladin
Ṣalāḥ ad-Dīn Yūsuf ibn Ayyūb , better known in the Western world as Saladin, was an Arabized Kurdish Muslim, who became the first Sultan of Egypt and Syria, and founded the Ayyubid dynasty. He led Muslim and Arab opposition to the Franks and other European Crusaders in the Levant...

) took personal control of the forces of Paneas and created a protective screen across the Huela through Tel el-Qadi (Tel Dan).

In 1187 Saladin ordered al-Afdal
Al-Afdal ibn Salah ad-Din
Al-Afdal ibn Salah ad-din popularly known as Al-Afdal was one of seventeen sons of Saladin. He succeeded his father as the second emir of Damascus. He was the leader of the Ayyubids in the Battle of Cresson.-Biography:...

 (his son) to sent an envoy to Count Raymond III
Raymond III of Tripoli
Raymond III of Tripoli was Count of Tripoli from 1152 to 1187 and Prince of Galilee and Tiberias in right of his wife Eschiva.-Early life:...

 of Tripoli
County of Tripoli
The County of Tripoli was the last Crusader state founded in the Levant, located in what today are parts of western Syria and northern Lebanon, where exists the modern city of Tripoli. The Crusader state was captured and created by Christian forces in 1109, originally held by Bertrand of Toulouse...

 requesting safe passage through his principality of Galilee and Tiberias. Raymond was obliged to grant the request under the terms of his treaty with Saladin. al-Afdal's force of 7,000 horsemen left Baniyas and encountered a force of 150 Knights Templar led by Gerard de Ridefort
Gerard de Ridefort
Gerard of Ridefort was Grand Master of the Knights Templar from the end of 1184 until his death in 1189.Gerard of Ridefort is thought probably to have been of Flemish origin, although some nineteenth-century writers suggested an Anglo-Norman background, apparently through misreading his...

, Grand Master of the Knights Templar. The Templar force was destroyed in the encounter
Battle of Cresson
The Battle of Cresson was a small battle fought on May 1, 1187, at the springs of Cresson, or 'Ain Gozeh, near Nazareth. It was a prelude to the decisive defeat of the Kingdom of Jerusalem at the Battle of Hattin two months later.-Background:...

. Saladin then besieged Tiberias, after 6 days the town fell. On 4 July 1187 Saladin defeated the crusaders coming to relieve Tiberias at the Battle of Hattin
Battle of Hattin
The Battle of Hattin took place on Saturday, July 4, 1187, between the Crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem and the forces of the Ayyubid dynasty....


In the first decade of the thirteenth century Baniyas was partially destroyed by an earthquake. Jahârkas the local amir rebuilt the burj (the fortress tower) in 1204 (AH 597). Named as Kŭl’at es-Subeibeh in 1846 by B B Edwards.

In March 1219 Khutluba was forced to relinquish Baniyas and destroy its fortress. The city was then passed to al-'Adil
Al-Adil I
Al-Adil I was an Ayyubid-Egyptian general and ruler of Kurdish descent. From his honorific "Sayf al-Din" he was sometimes known to the Frankish crusaders as "Saphadin".- Life :...

 and his son al-Mu'azzam
Al-Mu'azzam 'Isa Sharaf ad-Din was an Ayyubid Sultan who ruled Damascus from 1218 to 1227. The son of Sultan Al-Adil I and nephew of Saladin, founder of the dynasty, Al-Mu'azzam was installed by his father as governor of Damascus in 1201. After his father's death in 1218, Al-Mu'azzam ruled the...


Baniyas along with Toron
Toron, now Tibnin or Tebnine in southern Lebanon, was a major Crusader castle, built in the Lebanon mountains on the road from Tyre to Damascus....

 (now the modern town of Tebnine
Tebnine is a Mediterranean village spread across several hills located about east of Tyre , in the heart of what is known as "Jabal Amel" or the mountain of "Amel". "Jabal Amel" designates the plateau situated between the western mountain range of Lebanon and the Galilee...

) and Safed
Safed , is a city in the Northern District of Israel. Located at an elevation of , Safed is the highest city in the Galilee and of Israel. Due to its high elevation, Safed experiences warm summers and cold, often snowy, winters...

 and were recovered by the Franks through treaty in 1229, just two years after al-Mu'azzam's death on November 11, 1227, by Frederick II
Frederick II, Holy Roman Emperor
Frederick II , was one of the most powerful Holy Roman Emperors of the Middle Ages and head of the House of Hohenstaufen. His political and cultural ambitions, based in Sicily and stretching through Italy to Germany, and even to Jerusalem, were enormous...

 from Sultan al-Kamil
Al-Kamil was a Kurdish Ayyubid sultan who ruled North Africa. During his tenure as sultan, the Ayyubids defeated two crusades. In a temporary agreement with the Crusaders, he ceded Jerusalem to the Christians.-Biography:He was the son of sultan al-Adil, a brother of Saladin...


Ottoman period

The traveller J. S. Buckingham described Banias in 1825: "The present town is small, and meanly built, having no place of worship in it; and the inhabitants, who are about 500 in number, are Mohammedans and Metouali, governed by a Moslem Sheikh.

In the 1870s, Banias was described as "a village, built of stone, containing about 350 Moslems, situated on a raised table-land at the bottom of the hills of Mount Hermon. The village is surrounded by gardens crowded with fruit-trees. The source of the Jordan is close by, and the water runs in little aqueducts into and under every part of the modern village."

British Mandate to contemporary

The Syria-Lebanon-Palestine boundary was a product of the post-World War I Anglo-French partition of Ottoman Syria. British forces had advanced to a position at Tel Hazor against Turkish troops in 1918 and wished to incorporate all the sources of the Jordan River within the British controlled Palestine. Due to the French inability to establish administrative control, the frontier between Syria and Palestine was fluid. Following the Paris Peace Conference of 1919
Paris Peace Conference, 1919
The Paris Peace Conference was the meeting of the Allied victors following the end of World War I to set the peace terms for the defeated Central Powers following the armistices of 1918. It took place in Paris in 1919 and involved diplomats from more than 32 countries and nationalities...

, and the unratified and later annulled Treaty of Sèvres
Treaty of Sèvres
The Treaty of Sèvres was the peace treaty between the Ottoman Empire and Allies at the end of World War I. The Treaty of Versailles was signed with Germany before this treaty to annul the German concessions including the economic rights and enterprises. Also, France, Great Britain and Italy...

, stemming from the San Remo conference
San Remo conference
The San Remo Conference was an international meeting of the post-World War I Allied Supreme Council, held in Sanremo, Italy, from 19 to 26 April 1920. It was attended by the four Principal Allied Powers of World War I who were represented by the prime ministers of Britain , France and Italy and...

, the 1920 boundary extended the British controlled area to north of the Sykes Picot line, a straight line between the mid point of the Sea of Galilee
Sea of Galilee
The Sea of Galilee, also Kinneret, Lake of Gennesaret, or Lake Tiberias , is the largest freshwater lake in Israel, and it is approximately in circumference, about long, and wide. The lake has a total area of , and a maximum depth of approximately 43 m...

 and Nahariya
Nahariya is the northernmost coastal city in Israel, with an estimated population of 51,200.-History:Nahariya was founded by German Jewish immigrants from the Fifth Aliyah in the 1930s...

. In 1920 the French managed to assert authority over the Arab nationalist movement and after the Battle of Maysalun
Battle of Maysalun
The Battle of Maysalun , also called The Battle of Maysalun Pass, took place between Syrian and French forces about 12 miles west of Damascus near the town of Maysalun on July 23, 1920.-Background:...

, King Faisal
Faisal I of Iraq
Faisal bin Hussein bin Ali al-Hashemi, was for a short time King of the Arab Kingdom of Syria or Greater Syria in 1920, and was King of the Kingdom of Iraq from 23 August 1921 to 1933...

 was deposed. The international boundary between Palestine and Syria was finally agreed by Great Britain and France in 1923 in conjunction with the Treaty of Lausanne
Treaty of Lausanne
The Treaty of Lausanne was a peace treaty signed in Lausanne, Switzerland on 24 July 1923, that settled the Anatolian and East Thracian parts of the partitioning of the Ottoman Empire. The treaty of Lausanne was ratified by the Greek government on 11 February 1924, by the Turkish government on 31...

, after Britain had been given a League of Nations
League of Nations
The League of Nations was an intergovernmental organization founded as a result of the Paris Peace Conference that ended the First World War. It was the first permanent international organization whose principal mission was to maintain world peace...

 mandate for Palestine in 1922. Banyas (on the Quneitra
Quneitra is the largely destroyed and abandoned capital of the Quneitra Governorate in south-western Syria. It is situated in a high valley in the Golan Heights at an elevation of 1,010 metres above sea level...

/Tyre road) was within in the French Mandate of Syria. The border was set 750 metres south of the spring.

In 1941 Australian forces occupied Banias in the advance to the Litani
Battle of the Litani River
The Battle of the Litani River was a battle of the Second World War that took place between during the advance on Beirut during the Syria-Lebanon campaign...

 during the Syria-Lebanon Campaign
Syria-Lebanon campaign
The Syria–Lebanon campaign, also known as Operation Exporter, was the Allied invasion of Vichy French-controlled Syria and Lebanon, in June–July 1941, during World War II. Time Magazine referred to the fighting as a "mixed show" while it was taking place and the campaign remains little known, even...

; Free French and Indian forces also invaded Syria in the Battle of Kissoué
Battle of Kissoué
The Battle of Kissoué was part of the Allied advance on Damascus in Syria during the Syria-Lebanon campaign in World War II. The battle is noted for the confrontation between Vichy French and the Free French Forces...

. Banias's fate in this period was left in a state of limbo since Syria had come under British military control. When Syria was granted independence in April 1946, it refused to recognize the 1923 boundary agreed between Britain and France.

Following the 1948 Arab Israeli War, the Banias spring remained in Syrian territory, while the Banias River flowed through the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) into Israel. In 1953, at one of a series of meetings to regularize administration of the DMZs, Syria offered to adjust the armistice lines, and cede to Israel's 70% of the DMZ, in exchange for a return to the pre 1946 International border in the Jordan basin area, with Banias water resources returning to Syrian sovereignty. On 26 April, the Israeli cabinet met to consider the Syrian suggestions, with head of Israel’s Water Planning Authority, Simha Blass, in attendance. Blass noted that while the land to be ceded to Syria was not suitable for cultivation, the Syrian map did not suit Israel’s water development plan. Blass explained that the movement of the International boundary in the area of Banias would affect Israel’s water rights. The Israeli cabinet rejected the Syrian proposals but decided to continue the negotiations by making changes to the accord and placing conditions on the Syrian proposals. The Israeli conditions took into account Blass’s position over water rights and Syria rejected the Israeli counter offer.

In September 1953, Israel advanced plans for its National Water Carrier to help irrigate the coastal Sharon Plain and eventually the Negev desert by launching a diversion project on a nine-mile (14 km) channel midway between the Huleh Marshes and Lake Galilee (Lake Tiberias) in the central DMZ to be rapidly constructed. This prompted shelling from Syria and friction with the Eisenhower Administration; the diversion was moved to the southwest.

The Banias was included in the Jordan Valley Unified Water Plan
Jordan Valley Unified Water Plan
The Jordan Valley Unified Water Plan, commonly known as the "Johnston Plan", was a plan for the unified water resource development of the Jordan Valley. It was negotiated and developed by US ambassador Eric Johnston between 1953 and 1955, and based on an earlier plan commissioned by United Nations...

, which allocated Syria 20 million cubic metres annually from it. The plan was rejected by the Arab League
Arab League
The Arab League , officially called the League of Arab States , is a regional organisation of Arab states in North and Northeast Africa, and Southwest Asia . It was formed in Cairo on 22 March 1945 with six members: Egypt, Iraq, Transjordan , Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, and Syria. Yemen joined as a...

. Instead, at the 2nd Arab summit conference in Cairo
Cairo , is the capital of Egypt and the largest city in the Arab world and Africa, and the 16th largest metropolitan area in the world. Nicknamed "The City of a Thousand Minarets" for its preponderance of Islamic architecture, Cairo has long been a centre of the region's political and cultural life...

 of January 1964 the League decided that Syria
Syria , officially the Syrian Arab Republic , is a country in Western Asia, bordering Lebanon and the Mediterranean Sea to the West, Turkey to the north, Iraq to the east, Jordan to the south, and Israel to the southwest....

, Lebanon and Jordan would begin a water diversion project. Syria started the construction of canal to divert the flow of the Banias river away from Israel and along the slopes of the Golan toward the Yarmouk River
Yarmouk River
The Yarmouk River is the largest tributary of the Jordan River. It drains much of the Hauran Plateau. It is one of three main tributaries which enter the Jordan between the Sea of Galilee and the Dead Sea. To the south, are the Jabbok/Zarqa and the Arnon/Wadi Mujib) rivers...

. Lebanon was to construct a canal from the Hasbani River to Banias and complete the scheme The project was to divert 20 to 30 million cubic metres of water from the river Jordan tributaries to Syria and Jordan for the development of Syria and Jordan. The diversion plan for the Banias called for a 73 kilometre long canal to be dug 350 metres above sea level, that would link the Banias with the Yarmuk. The canal would carry the Banias’s fixed flow plus the overflow from the Hasbani (including water from the Sarid and Wazani). This led to military intervention from Israel, first with tank fire and then, as the Syrians shifted the works further eastward, with airstrikes.

On June 10, 1967, the last day of the Six Day War, the Golani Brigade captured the village of Banias. Eshkol's priority on the Syrian front was control of the water sources.

Tel Dan

While Banias does not appear in the Old Testament, Philostorgius
Philostorgius was an Anomoean Church historian of the 4th and 5th centuries. Anomoeanism questioned the Trinitarian account of the relationship between God the Father and Christ and was considered a heresy by the Orthodox Church, which adopted the term "homoousia" in the Nicene Creed. Very little...

, Theodoret
Theodoret of Cyrus or Cyrrhus was an influential author, theologian, and Christian bishop of Cyrrhus, Syria . He played a pivotal role in many early Byzantine church controversies that led to various ecumenical acts and schisms...

, Benjamin of Tudela
Benjamin of Tudela
Benjamin of Tudela was a medieval Jewish traveler who visited Europe, Asia, and Africa in the 12th century. His vivid descriptions of western Asia preceded those of Marco Polo by a hundred years...

 and Samuel ben Samson all incorrectly identified it with Laish (Tel el-Qadi renamed as Tel Dan). Eusebius of Caesarea
Eusebius of Caesarea
Eusebius of Caesarea also called Eusebius Pamphili, was a Roman historian, exegete and Christian polemicist. He became the Bishop of Caesarea in Palestine about the year 314. Together with Pamphilus, he was a scholar of the Biblical canon...

 accurately places Dan/Laish in the vicinity of Paneas at the fourth mile on the route to Tyre. Eusebius's identification was confirmed by E Robinson in 1838 and subsequently by archaeological excavations at Tel-Dan and Caesarea Philippi

Notables from Paneas

  • Al-Wadin ibn ‘Ata al-Dimashki (d. 764 or 766) - an Arab scholar of the Umayyad
    The Umayyad Caliphate was the second of the four major Arab caliphates established after the death of Muhammad. It was ruled by the Umayyad dynasty, whose name derives from Umayya ibn Abd Shams, the great-grandfather of the first Umayyad caliph. Although the Umayyad family originally came from the...


Suggested reading on water issues

  • Water for the Future: The West Bank and Gaza Strip, Israel, and Jordan By U.S. National Academy of Sciences, Inc NetLibrary, Jamʻīyah al-ʻIlmīyah al-Malakīyah, Committee on Sustainable Water Supplies for the Middle East, National Research Council, National Academy of Sciences (U.S.) Published by National Academies Press, 1999 ISBN 030906421X,
  • Allan John Anthony, (2001) The Middle East Water Question: Hydropolitics and the Global Economy I.B.Tauris, ISBN 1860648134
  • Amery, Hussein A. and Wolf, Aaron T. (2000) Water in the Middle East: A Geography of Peace University of Texas Press, ISBN 029270495X

External links

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.