CAPITOLIAS , city E. of the Jordan founded in 98/99 c.e. which later became one of the cities of the *Decapolis. It is located between Gadara and Adraha (Derʿa), 16 miles from each on the Peutinger Map, and 36 miles from Neve in the Antonine Itinerary. Capitolias is called Bet Reisha in the Talmud and cattle pastures are mentioned in its vicinity (Ḥul. 80a). It has been identified with Beit Rasʾ 3 mi. (5 km.) north of Irbid. Covering an area of 20 acres, it is surrounded by a wall (built in the second century c.e.) with three gates facing north, enclosing paved roads, a marketplace, reservoirs, a temple of the Capitoline triad, etc. It was originally built as a planned Roman city in the first century c.e., perhaps for military reasons, and continued to be settled throughout the Byzantine and Early Islamic periods (to the 10th century c.e.), The site was mentioned by various 19th-century explorers, including G. Schumacher, and in the 20th century it was visited by numerous archaeologists, notably by Nelson Glueck, G. Lancaster Harding, and S. Mittman. Systematic archaeological research with excavations at the site began in the early 1980s and continued into the 21st century. Excavations have concentrated on a three-tiered Roman marketplace and on a church of mid-fifth century date (converted into a mosque in the eighth century c.e.). Water was brought into the city by aqueduct.
Abel, Geog, 2 (1938), 294–5; Avi-Yonah, Geog, s.v.; A.S. Marmardji, Textes géographiques arabes… (1951), s.v.Bayt Ras. add. bibliography: C.J. Lenzen and E. Axel Knauf, "Beit Ras-Capitolias: A Preliminary Evaluation of the Archaeological and Textual Evidence," in: Syria, 64 (1987), 21–46; C.J. Lenzen, "Irbid and Beit Ras: Interconnected Settlements Between c.a.d. 100–900," in: G. Bisheh (ed.), Studies in the History and Archaeology of Jordan, vol. 4 (1992), 299–307.
[Michael Avi-Yonah /
Shimon Gibson (2nd ed.)]