GAMALA (Gamla ), ancient city in lower Golan. It was called Gamala because it was situated on a hill shaped like a camel's hump (Heb. gamal, "camel"). According to the Mishnah it was fortified in the time of Joshua (Ar. 9:16). Alexander Yannai (Jannaeus) captured the city (83–80 b.c.e.) and it continued to be inhabited by Jews (Jos., Ant., 13:394); it belonged to the Herodian territory of Gaulanitis (Jos., Wars, 1:105). During the war against Rome it was fortified by Josephus and since the Jewish rebels could maintain contact with Babylonia by way of Gamala, the city underwent a prolonged siege in 67 c.e. Because of its nearly impregnable position and strong fortifications, it was captured only after very severe fighting; Vespasian killed many of its inhabitants while others committed suicide (Wars, 4:11–54, 62–83). First identified by Y. Gal at a rocky spur between the branches of Naḥal Daliyyot, close to the village of Deir Qeruh, the site was surveyed and subsequently excavated by S. Guttman for ten years from 1976. More recently new excavations have been conducted at the site by D. Syon, who is also in charge of the publication of the late Guttman's work. The earliest remains at the site date from the Early Bronze Age. The principal archaeological remains at the site are the remains of the town dating from the Late Hellenistic period to the destruction by the Romans in 67 c.e. The settlement was built on the slope of a spur with a fortification wall along the unprotected sides. The buildings were built inside the town on terraces. Residential and industrial buildings were found separated by alleyways. A large public columned building was uncovered with benches along the walls, and it was identified by the excavator as a synagogue. A large olive press was also excavated as well as a number of residential buildings. Large quantities of finds were uncovered, including pottery, chalk vessels, coins, arrowheads, and ballista balls.
G. Schumacher, Across the Jordan (1886), 74–76, 84–85; Dalman, in: pjb, 7 (1911), 25–26; 8 (1912), 52ff. add. bibliography: S. Guttman, "The Synagogue at Gamla," in: L.I. Levine (ed.), Ancient Synagogues Revealed (1981), 30–34; idem, Gamla – A City in Rebellion (1994); D. Syon and Z. Yavor, "Gamla – Old and New," in: Qadmoniot, 34 (2001).
[Michael Avi-Yonah /
Shimon Gibson (2nd ed.)]