Encyclopædia Britannica, Ninth Edition/Decapolis
DECAPOLIS, a district of Palestine, or perhaps rather a confederation of districts, situated, with the exception of a small portion, on the eastern side of the Upper Jordan and the Sea of Tiberias. Its boundaries are not accurately known, and probably were never precisely defined. It evidently takes its name from the fact that it included ten cities ([Greek]), but the ancient geographers do not agree as to which these ten cities were. This difference of statement may be explained by the supposition that, like the Cinque Ports of England, Decapolis preserved its original designation after new members were received into the confederation, and perhaps some of the old members had lost their connection. Pliny recognizes the uncertainty, but gives the following list : Damascus, Philadelphia, Raphana, Scythopolis (on the west side of the Jordan), Gadara, Hippo, Dion, Pella, Galasa (Gerasa), and Canatha. Damascus is the only one that retains its importance ; Scythopolis, or Beth-Shean, which seems to have been anciently the next in size, is represented by the village of Beisan ; and Gerasa, Canatha or Kenath, and Pella are of interest only for their ruins. Decapolis was placed by the Romans under the jurisdiction of the Syrian governor, and seems to have enjoyed special privileges. Regarding the rise and decay of the confederation we have no precise information, but it was at the height of its prosperity in the time of Christ.