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Atlas Obscura Beit She’arim Necropolis

The Roman destruction of Jerusalem’s Second Temple in 70 CE scattered the Jewish people out into the empire, from the Greek islands to as far as modern-day Spain and Portugal. Following this cataclysmic event, Jerusalem’s great assembly of the Sanhedrin, a sort of Supreme Court of the Jewish nation, migrated north to the Galilean city of Bet She’arim.

There’s not much left of the city itself in what is now Beit She’arim National Park. At its peak in the 2nd century, however, the city was a thriving center of rabbinical Judaism. Rabbi Judah the Prince, compiler of the Mishna (a written compilation of Jewish oral tradition), made his home in Beit She’arim, assisted by a land grant from his childhood friend, the philosopher emperor Marcus Aurelius. But rather than the scattered remains of the city, what most fascinates visitors to the park is the sprawling, rock-hewn necropolis in which Rabbi Judah is buried.

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