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AMMATHA (Hamta, Ammatu, Ammatus ), ancient town located east of the Jordan, 21 Roman mi. south of *Pella. Ammatha was a fortified city in the period of the Second Temple, when it was captured by Alexander Yannai, who seized there the treasures of Theodore, the son of Zeno, ruler of Philadelphia (Jos., Ant. 13:356; Wars 1:86–87). When Alexander later resumed his campaign in Transjordan, he found that Theodore had razed the abandoned city to the ground (Jos., Ant. 13:356; Wars 1:86–89). A royal palace, nevertheless, still existed there in the time of Herod (Jos., Ant., 17:277).

Ammatha was the capital of one of the five districts, each with its own council (synhedrion), into which Gabinius divided Judea (Jos., Ant. 14:91; Wars 1:170). In Byzantine times it was still the headquarters of a fiscal district. It is mentioned several times in rabbinic sources as Ammatu, Hamtan, or Hamata, which would indicate a place possessing hot springs (tj, Shev. 6:1, 39d; Mid. Ps. to 92:11). In the Arab period, Ammatha continued to be an important center of agriculture (cereals, indigo) and industry (arrowheads). The Arab geographer al-Idrīsī (1154) mentions it along with Jericho and Beth-Shean as one of the finest towns of the Jordan Valley. Ammatha is identified with Tell ʿAmmātā, northeast of the confluence of the Jabbok and Jordan rivers.


Glueck, in: aasor, 15 (1935), 95ff.; Avi-Yonah, Geog, 165.

[Michael Avi-Yonah]