views updated


PHASAELIS , settlement and estate founded by King Herod in the Jordan Valley N. of Jericho and named after his elder brother Phasael, who died in 40 b.c.e. (Jos., Wars, 1:418). The place was renowned for its palm groves and dates (Pliny, Natural History, 13:4, 44). Herod bequeathed Phasaelis to his sister Salome; she in turn willed it to the empress Livia, the wife of Augustus; from Livia, the estate of Phasaelis passed to her son Tiberius and remained imperial property throughout the period of the Roman and Byzantine empires. It is shown on the Madaba Map with an accompanying date palm. In Byzantine times, hermits lived there; a church of St. Cyriacus in Phasaelis is mentioned by Moschus (Pratum spirituale, 92) and Cyriacus of Scythopolis (Vita Sabae, 29). The site is identified with Khirbat Faṣṣaʾil, which has remains of water channels, an aqueduct 1¼ mi. long, water mills, building foundations, and Roman roads.


Schuerer, Gesch, 2 (1907), 204; Abel, in: rb, 10 (1913), 235; Alt, in: pjb, 23 (1927), 31; Avi-Yonah, Geog, 120. add. bibliography: Y. Tsafrir, L. Di Segni, and J. Green, Tabula Imperii Romani. IudaeaPalaestina. Maps and Gazetteer. (1994), 202–3.

[Michael Avi-Yonah]