Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Geography (MS)

Degree Level





Tom Paradise

Committee Member

Jason Tullis

Second Committee Member

Rhodora Vennarucci


Development, Jordan, Remote Sensing, Roman, Urban Morphology


The Levant’s Decapolis was a network of ten cities in Greco-Roman Israel, Jordan, and Syria that established a thriving economic community. The Decapolis was home to ancient and modern cities like Damascus (Dammásq) and Amman (Philadelphia). Despite the various origins of these cities, Roman administration and their city planners oversaw the implementation of idealized Roman city form throughout the region. Three Decapolis cities represent intriguing examples of the larger confederation. Philadelphia (Amman), Gerasa (Jerash), and Gadara (Umm Qais) represent cities of common original urban form which developed drastically diverse urban morphologies over time.

Spatial analyses of these cities required working from the modern urban plans to Roman- era morphologies. Project methodology involved the assessment of satellite and flyover imagery for both the modern city structure and the extant ancient city infrastructure and remains. Utilizing remote-sensing applications enabled in-depth analyses of land use and past urban structures. As the older city forms and infrastructure were identified, their reconstructions based on archaeological excavations and historical accounts were crucial. Preliminary results revealed important aspects about the urban form of each city over time. For example, Amman is now completely surrounded by its Roman ruins, radiating from the old Roman center into the large city today, little affected by topography. By the 20th century, Jerash had enlarged primarily to the east, however, more recently into a distinctive radial pattern. Umm Qais, however, has expanded eastward of its old center in an organic morphology following topography and watercourses. Urban morphometric analysis is vital for explaining and visualizing how Decapolis cities had developed and created powerful links, intertrade routes, and economies – the thrust of this study.