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Document Details :
Title: The Hermit Caves in Bethany Beyond the Jordan (Baptism Site)
Author(s): WAHEEB, Mohammad , BALA'AWI, Fadi , AL-SHAWABKEH, Yahya
Journal: Ancient Near Eastern Studies
Volume: 48 Date: 2011
The many natural and artificial caves found in the region of Bethany Beyond the Jordan, east of the Jordan River, were used by monks for various purposes. Impressive new remains of five caves have been discovered in the vicinity; two close to the river and three near the Byzantine monastery on Elijah’s Hill, the core of the settlement and the place from which the Prophet Elijah is said to have ascended to heaven. One of the three caves on Elijah’s Hill eventually came to function as the apse of a Byzantine church. Based on the archaeological evidence, tradition, and the contents of Byzantine and medieval texts written by pilgrims who visited the site, it is suggested this may originally have been John the Baptist’s cave. The church which was later built there may have been intended simply as a place for the monks to venerate St John; alternatively it could have been set up by orthodox monks to counter and compete with a monastery and church established by the Monophysite Byzantine emperor Anastasius on the west bank of the Jordan nearby.