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The unique design of the Oval Plaza, also called the Oval Forum, cleverly connects two divergent main axes of the ancient city. The much older Sanctuary of Zeus faces northeast toward the original settlement core of Gerasa on the opposite hill (where the museum stands today). When, at the turn of the 1st and 2nd centuries AD, the new Cardo was laid out as the city's north-south connection and main street, it had to incorporate the central Sanctuary of Zeus in a representative way, which was not possible through a frontal approach because of the river valley and the rules of Roman urban planning with a rectangular street network.
The sophisticated architectural solution is an elongated, elliptical plaza (approx. 90 x 80 m), whose elegantly curved colonnades place the Sanctuary of Zeus as the dominant feature in the center. The paving of the square with large stone slabs was adapted to the curves of the colonnades.
The east colonnade leads directly to the staircase of the temenos. Behind the colonnades of the square there were probably stores.
The distance between the columns with Ionic capitals, on which rests a continuous architrave, is 2.75 m. Only in the western colonnade (in the photo above) there are two wider intercolumnia of 3.65 m and 3.55 m with a slightly higher architrave. In these locations, streets opened into the square.
On the square stood two small monuments. On one pedestal for statues a column was placed in modern times. On the second smaller pedestal four columns are said to have framed a statue (information from a text at the site).
View from the upper terrace of the Sanctuary of Zeus.
The construction of the Oval Plaza (c. 130 AD) has been exceedingly difficult because it lies over a deep depression in the ground between the so-called Camp Hill and the hill of the Sanctuary of Zeus, which had to be leveled. During excavations in the early 1930s, archaeologists found a 6 to 8 m high substructure of large hewn and regularly walled stone blocks on a layer of hard gravel (Kraeling, p. 154/155).
(© Text by Universes in Universe from information in different sources.)
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Recopilación de información, edición, traducciones, fotos: Universes in Universe, excepto se indique en especial.
Gerasa, City of the Decapolis.
An account embodying the record of a joint excavation conducted by Yale University and the British School of Archaeology in Jerusalem (1928-1930), and Yale University and the American schools of Oriental Research (1930-1931, 1933-1934).
New Haven, American Schools of Oriental Research, 1938.