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Hammat Tiberias Review
This is where you'll find Israel's hottest spring gushing out of the earth at 60°C (140°F) due to cracks in the earth's crust along the Syrian-African Rift. Alas, this is an archaeological site, so you don't get to dip you toes into the waters here. (You can do that at the more impressive hot springs at Hammat Gader).
Legend says that Solomon, the great king of Israel, wanted a hot bath and used his awesome authority to force some young devils belowground to heat the water. Seeing that the springs brought great happiness to his subjects, Solomon worried about what would happen when he died and the devils stopped their labors. Solomon made the hapless devils deaf, so to this day they continue to heat the water for fear of his wrath.
By the end of the Second Temple period (the 1st century AD), when settlement in the Sea of Galilee region was at its height, a Jewish town called Hammat (Hot Springs) stood here. With time, Hammat was overshadowed by its newer neighbor, Tiberias. The benefits of the mineral hot springs were already legendary: a coin minted in Tiberias during the rule of Emperor Trajan, around AD 100, shows Hygeia, the goddess of health, sitting on a rock with a spring gushing out beneath it.
Parts of ancient Hammat have been uncovered, bringing to light a number of ruined synagogues. The most dramatic dates from the 4th century AD, with an elaborate mosaic floor that uses motifs almost identical to those at Beit Alfa: classical Jewish symbols, human figures representing the four seasons and the signs of the zodiac, and the Greek god Helios at the center. They are among the finest ever found in Israel.
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