1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Eleutheropolis

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ELEUTHEROPOLIS (Gr. Ἐλευθέρα πόλις, “free city”), an ancient city of Palestine, 25 m. from Jerusalem on the road to Gaza, identified by E. Robinson with the modern Beit Jibrīn. This identification is confirmed by Roman milestones in the neighbourhood. It represents the Biblical Mareshah, the ruins of which exist at Tell Sandahannah close by. As Betogabra it is mentioned by Ptolemy; the name Eleutheropolis dates from the Syrian visit of Septimius Severus (A.D. 202). Eusebius in his Onomasticon uses it as a central point from which the distances of other towns are measured. It was destroyed in 796, rebuilt by the crusaders in 1134 (their fortress and chapel remain, much ruined). It was finally captured by Bibars, 1244. Beit Jibrīn is in the centre of a district of great archaeological interest. Besides the crusader and other remains in the village itself, the surrounding country possesses many tells (mounds) covering the sites of ancient cities. The famous caves of Beit Jibrīn honeycomb the hills all round. These are immense artificial excavations of unknown date. Roman milestones and aqueducts also are found, and close by the now famous tomb of Apollophanes, with wall-paintings of animals and other ornamentation, was discovered in 1902; a description of it will be found in Thiersch and Peters, The Marissa Tombs, published by the Palestine Exploration Fund.  (R. A. S. M.)