Roman Hot Springs in Tiberias

Hammat Tiberias is an archeological site of thermal baths located in the city of Tiberias in Israel. The site consists of the Roman ruins of the ancient hot springs, the Hamam Suleiman and the ruins of a nearby Synagogue.

Location

The first establishment in the location was that of Al-Hamma, testimonies of which can be found in the Torah and, later, in the historical sources of the Roman and Byzantine periods. The name comes from the Hebrew “Ham” which means hot. In fact, the temperature of water in the hot spring can reach up to 60°C.
Herod Antipas established the Roman city in 20 AD. It included Hamma, thus the name of Hammat Tiberias. Even later, the wall of the city of Tiberias during the Byzantine period in the sixth century AD also included Al-Hamma.

Historians such as the Roman Pliny the Elder (AD 23-79) and Amineus Marcellinos (AD 330-395) described the characteristics of hot water and the public baths in the city of Tiberias at the time. The latter even adds that the bath in Hamma had its own healing power and that patients came there from Athens to receive treatment.

Archeology in the Site

The first excavations date back to 1920, when Al-Hamma was found coincidentally, during the expansion of Tiberias Street southward. In 1921-1922 early excavations indicated the existence of the remains of a synagogue from the Roman period.
The site is made up of 17 natural hot springs with a water temperature of 60°C, with a saline concentration of about 36% consisting of chloride, salt, sodium, potassium, bromide, and sulfate. Most of the water flows to the site through underground channels that were built with ventilating holes to release steam pressure from the hot waters.
The ruins of the baths form the Roman period are located at the southern end of the site. When watching the spring, tourists can get an idea about the hot water and its salty taste, which was used for treatment during the Roman period. This spring often dries up, especially during the summer when the eater level in the Sea of Galilee drops.
So far the excavations are not concluded. What we can see at the site is the remains of a wall with three arches, near which is a plastered pool and a channel that connects the water from the pool to the baths.

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  • Main text by Angelo Battista moc.liamg|088atsittab#moc.liamg|088atsittab and Elias Abu Warda moc.liamg|adrawubasaile#moc.liamg|adrawubasaile (December 2018)
  • Information courtesy of Camil Sari.

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