Bet Shean (bāt shĭänˈ) [key], town (1994 pop. 14,900), NE Israel, in the Jordan River valley, c.300 ft (90 m) below sea level. Situated in a fertile farming region, it is a center for agricultural experiments. Textiles are manufactured. Archaeological excavations have traced settlements on the site back to the Bronze Age: Bet Shean was the site of an Egyptian administrative center during the XVIII and XIX dynasties (see Egypt), a Scythian city from c.625 to 300 B.C., and the biblical city Beth-shan. In 64 B.C. it was taken by the Romans, rebuilt, and made the center of the Decapolis. The modern Bet Shean was established in 1949 by Israeli settlers. Archaeological finds include temples of the Canaanite Bronze Age, a Hellenistic-Roman temple, and a Byzantine monastery. The town is also known as Beisan.
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