The Roman City
One of the best-preserved provincial Roman towns in the world, Jerash lies about 45 km north of ‘Amman, in a fertile valley with a perennial stream. Because of its water, the site has been settled at least since Neolithic times and Bronze and Iron Age pottery has been found on the original tell. Its early Semitic name was Garshu.
Tradition claims that it was re-founded by Alexander the Great (or perhaps his general Perdiccas) to settle Macedonian veterans; but the Seleucid king Antiochus IV (175- 164 c) is more likely. Renamed Antioch ad Chrysorhoas (Antioch on the Golden River, as the stream was rather grandiosely called), little remains of this Hellenistic era, nor of the brief Hasmonaean occupation, for the new Roman city of Gerasa obliterated most of what preceded it. As a city of the Decapolis, Gerasa entered a long period of prosperity.
In the 1st century AD a new town plan was adopted with a colonnaded main street, the Cardo, at the south end of which is the unusual and lovely Oval Piazza (in fact two unequal parabolas joined by a straight line). Above it is the larger of the two theatres, with seats for about 3,000 people.