The Lion’s Mausoleum of Hippos of the Decapolis

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The article presents the results of excavations and study of one of the mausolea at Antiochia Hippos, one of the cities of the Decapolis. The Lion's Mausoleum stands within the necropolis on the side of the main road leading to Hippos, just a couple of hundred metres from the main city gate. This Roman period mausoleum is the only tomb at Hippos to be thoroughly excavated and studied, and it is among the few in the region that survived partly with remnants of architectural details and sculpture, including a statue of a lion after which the mausoleum is named. The excavations of the building were completed in 2019 and produced a wealth of finds. The small finds, together with construction methods and materials, indicate that the mausoleum was constructed in the early 2nd century ad and used through the 3rd and the early 4th century ad. The surviving architectural remains allow reconstruction of a square ground floor with additional two floors above, and a hypothetical conical roof, in total over 13 m high. The finds allow for better understanding of the burial customs of the wealthy inhabitants of one of the cities of the Decapolis during the Roman period. The contextualization gives a broader glance on the variety of Roman mausolea in the Decapolis and the surrounding Hauran and Galilee.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)279-303
Number of pages25
JournalPalestine Exploration Quarterly
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The excavations were carried out by the Hippos Excavations Project on behalf of the Zinman Institute of Archaeology, University of Haifa, Israel, directed by E. Dan and M. Eisenberg (2012–2013) and by M. Eisenberg and A. Kowalewska (2018–2019). The digging was done in-between the main excavation seasons during daily dig days with a dozen of highly motivated participants. Field managing was done by M. Eisenberg and A. Kowalewska with the assistance of A. Pažout and N. Koskanen.; ground and drone-based photography and photogrammetry was done by M. Eisenberg; metal detector operation by A. Iermolin and M. Eisenberg; drawing and measurements by B. Canon; pottery reading by M. Osband; numismatics by A. Berman and D. Syon; field conservation by A. Iermolin and Y. Vitkalov, and conservation of small finds and architectural sculpted pieces by A. Iermolin, head of the Conservation Lab at the Zinman Institute of Archaeology, University of Haifa . All crucial loci, and some fill loci, were sifted on-site. The excavations were carried out under Israel Antiquities Authority excavation licenses G16/2012 and G-16/2019, and NPA permits 2793/12 and A007-19. The research was supported by the Israel Science Foundation Grant 722/17.

Funding Information:
I would like to thank Ronit Palistrant Schaick and Orit Peleg-Barkat for the insights and references concerning the architectural fragments and sculpted fragments, Arthur Segal and Jacques Seigne for their important insights, and mainly to Arleta Kowalewska for her precious assistance and co-directing. The mausoleum was excavated by a wonderful group of about a dozen highly motivated volunteers, who participated regularly and invested their energy and time; I am deeply grateful for each of them, and in particular to Alexander Iermolin, Alex Nakaryakov, Yana Vitkalov, Miri Hecht and Vladimir Lechem. Part of the logistics, equipment and laboratories services were supplied by the Zinman Institute of Archaeology at the University of Haifa and I thank them for their important support.

Publisher Copyright:
© Palestine Exploration Fund 2020.


  • Decapolis
  • Hippos
  • Mausoleum
  • Roman
  • Sussita
  • burial
  • necropolis
  • sculpture

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Archaeology
  • History
  • Visual Arts and Performing Arts
  • Religious studies
  • Archaeology


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