Upper Galilee and the Golan Feature


The City of Pan

The name Banias is an Arabic corruption of the Greek Panias (Arabic has no p), the original name given to the area that, in the early 4th century BC, was dedicated to the colorful Greek god Pan, the half-goat, half-human deity of herdsmen, music, and wild nature—and of homosexuals and nymphs. The Banias Reserve encompasses the ruins of this ancient city.

Herod the Great ruled the city in the 1st century AD; his son Philip inherited it and changed the city's name to Caesarea Philippi, to distinguish it from the Caesarea his father had founded on the Mediterranean coast. The city continued to flourish until after the Muslim conquest in the 7th century AD, when it declined into little more than a village. In the 10th century AD, Muslim immigration brought renewed settlement and Jews also came to Banias (as it became known sometime during the 7th century).

In the early 12th century, Crusaders held Banias, who saw it as a natural border between their kingdom and the neighboring Muslim realm, whose center was Damascus. The Muslims recaptured Banias in 1132, but the city declined in importance and was taken over by Bedouin chieftains. It became a small village, which it remained until the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) conquered the area in the 1967 Six Days' War.

Updated: 2013-11-07

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