Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Geography and Geology

First Advisor

Dr. John F. Shroder, Jr.


The geographical problem addressed in this study was to reconstruct the paleogeography of the western Beteiha Plain, located between Bethsaida and the Sea of Galilee and determine its sedimentologic and paleogeomorphologic character. Grain size analysis of sediments, along with sediment color was used to reconstruct the landscape and identify areas such as estuaries or lagoons.

Sediment samples were collected throughout the Beteiha Plain at selected locations. Excavation and collection was accomplished with hand-driven core equipment and backhoe trenches.

The multidisciplinary approach used in this project included fieldwork for sediment collection, laboratory analysis for the production of the data necessary to identify areas of different deposition, and identification of sediment characteristics such as grain size and color. Supplemental data used to identify environments of deposition were presence of elastics, pottery shards, roman glass, organic material, and radiocarbon dates. A geographic information system (GIS) was created as a means of producing, storing, and analyzing data.

The results have shown that areas of quiet and deep (>1-2 meters) water did indeed exist in antiquity in the area of the western Beteiha Plain in several locations. West of Bethsaida and east of the Jordan River the sediment texture, color, presence of microfossils, gravel, and artifacts has helped to establish a lagoon or inlet that was probably fed water from the Bethsaida spring. The remnants of this lagoon are still visible at the Bethsaida pool with the existence of a possible anchorage. The presence of the pottery shards and glass in the sediments at depths ranging from a few centimeters to 4-5 meters close to Bethsaida show clearly that an inlet or bay existed deep into the Beteiha Plain in antiquity. The gravels that subsequently completely filled in the bay provide strong evidence of the catastrophic flood deposition that brought an end to the bay. Such a flood, originally hypothesized by Shroder et al, (1999) as a result the failure of a seismically induced, slope failure dam and impoundment in the upper Jordan gorge, appears to have occurred ~ 1900-1600 years ago.


A Thesis Presented to the Department of Geography-Geology and the Faculty of the Graduate College University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree Master of Arts University of Nebraska at Omaha. Copyright 2000 Laura Banker.

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