Gabi Laron/Institute of Archaeology, Hebrew University

A snake-haired Medusa gazes glumly from the top of the breastplate of a statue found near the cluster of buildings in the center of Beth-Shean. The excavators identify the twice life-size statue as that of one of the Roman emperors in the latter half of the second century A.D. Below the Medusa, wrapped by a belt across the emperor’s chest, are two griffins—creatures with the head of an eagle and the body and hind legs of a lion. Beneath the griffins perches the eagle of Zeus. These symbols were common on such statues throughout the Roman world, further indication that Beth-Shean was in the mainstream of the empire’s culture.