The Jordan Valley

8. Phasaelis - (Kh. Fasayil)

There are no doubts about the identification of this site that must be localized north and not south of Archelais [ see: 9]. Father Lagrange has been the first to show that - according to Josephus (Antiquités XVII: 340) - Archelais was situated 'at the end of the aqueduct of Neara'; that is to say south of Phasaelis; contrary to the statement of Ptolomäus and the opinion transmitted at that time. This change of localization is confirmed by the Madaba map. J. O'Callaghan (Dictionnaire de la Bible,col. 639), also informs us that the actual Khirbet Fasa'il, near a cistern, 2 km from Wadi Fasa'il, corresponds to the historical site.

Herbert Donner (The Mosaic Map of Madaba, Kampen 1992, 45)
Phasaelis was one of the road stations on the road from Jericho to Skythopolis (Besan), built by Herod the Great and named after his brother Phasael. It is identical with Hirbat Fasayil.

Tabula Imperii Romani. Iudaea - Palaestina (Jerusalem 1994, 202)
Settlement famous for its palm groves. Aqueduct. Church known from sources.

Bellarmino Bagatti (Ancient Christian Villages of Samaria, Jerusalem - in the press)

The Church of St. Cyriacus at Fasayil

In searching for places which bore some relation to the prophet Elijah, Father Augustinovic brought me in 1949 to the locality indicated on the maps as Kh. Fasayil. The occasion seemed to me most opportune for determining if there remained any trace of the church of St. Cyriacus mentioned in John Moschus Pratum Spirituale (ch. 92, PG 87, 2949). According to this story, Abbot George, archimandrite of the monastery of St. Theodosius, built a church there and in doing so found the tomb of an anchorite named Peter.
The monastery was dedicated to St. Cyriacus and probably commemorated the monk honored on September 9 and 29, who died in 556. A St. Cyriacus was also venerated in the tower of Mejdel Yaba (see below, pp.) but it does not seem to be the same saint.
Among the ruins on the site one can distinguish a large square building, of which now only the outline is visible, because it is almost completely buried (TS 1950, 104). At the mouth of the wadi Fasayil, in a little mound, there is a birkeh and many unexcavated remains of walls. The site is called Tell Sheikh edh-Dhiab because of a tomb of this personage, still in good condition. Guérin (Samarie I, 228-229) calls it Tell Fasayil. Possibly it may represent the imonastery building.
Following the bed of the wadi for 4 kilometers, one will reach a spring flowsing through steep banks in which are hewn some caves that serve as shelters for the flocks. A survey made after our visit (G. Harder, ZDPV 78 [1962], 54-60) have not added much to what was already known.

For more sources and bibliography see:
Tabula Imperii Romani. Iudaea - Palaestina (Jerusalem 1994) s.v. "Phasaelis", 202-203.

Map Section 2 Place Sources

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Created Tuesday, December 19, 2000 at 23:30:46
by Eugenio Alliata ofm in collaboration with Stefano de Luca ofm
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copyright - Studium Biblicum Franciscanum - Jerusalem 2000