The Story of a City

By Avshalom Kapach |
Photo: Creative Commons

In the north of Israel, on the strategic Golan Heights, lies Gamla. This ancient Jewish town, in the foothills of a mountain chain surrounded by deep wadis (dry riverbeds), tells a story of heroism. Here we find the ruins of one of the world’s oldest synagogues along with a magnificent view overlooking a colony of nesting griffon vultures.


The precise location of Gamla had been lost over the centuries, but in 1968, after an extensive archaeological study of the Golan, the actual location was confirmed. Excavation of Gamla was carried out from 1976 to 1991.


Descriptions in The Wars of the Jews by Roman Jewish historian Flavius Josephus provided clues about the geographical location of Gamla. “It was situated upon a rough ridge of a high mountain, with a kind of neck in the middle…insomuch that it is like a camel in figure, from whence it is so named.” Gamal is Hebrew for “camel.”

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