Duby Tal/Albatross

Nestled at the foot of Mt. Hermon, Banias overlooks the Jordan Valley’s fertile northern end. The architectural remains visible in this aerial photo, taken before most of Agrippa II’s palace was uncovered, are primarily medieval. The square hillock at center is a Crusader citadel. Along its western face (lower left) appears a series of Roman vaults. When a volunteer stumbled upon the first story of Agrippa’s palace 60 feet to the west, the excavators determined that these vaults were part of the same structure—and the only remains from the building’s upper story. In the aerial photo, the remains of a medieval mosque, perhaps originally a synagogue, lie directly in front of the vaults. This building was built on top of a much larger basilica, or public hall, within the Roman palace. The semicircular apse of the medieval building points south toward two excavation squares (bottom center, above road, in photo) where the excavators found nothing but dirt in 1992. When the palace remains were exposed one year later, the excavators realized that this initial probe had missed the apse of the Roman basilica by only 6 inches.