Also known as Autocratoris, Diocaesarea, Eirenopolis Neronias, Le Sephorie, Saffouriya, Safuriyah, Safuriyye, Seffarieh, Sephoris, Sippori, Zippori.

Although the date of the city's establishment is a point of some dispute, it is at least as old as the 7th century BCE, when it is fortified by the Assyrians, subsequently serving as an administrative center in the region under Bablyonian,Hellenistic and Persian rule. Throughout this time period, the city was known as Sepphoris.

In 104 BCE, Hasmonean tribes that had taken over much of the region laid claim to the city under the leadership of either Alexander Jannaeus or Aristobulus I.

The city was called Tzippori and may have derived from the Hebrew word for 'bird,' tsippor, perhaps because of the birds'-eye-view the hilltop provides.
The Hasmonean Kingdom was divided into five districts by the Roman pro-consul Gabinius and Sepphoris came under the direct rule of the Romans in the year 37 BCE, when Herod the Great captured the city from Mattathaias Antigonus reportedly at the height of a snowstorm.

After Herod's death in 4 BCE, the city's largely Jewish inhabitants organized riots against Roman rule. The Roman army moved in, under the command the Roman Governor in Syria, Varus. The Roman army completely destroyed the city and sold many of its inhabitants into slavery.

Herod's son, Herod Antipas was made Tetrarch, or governor in 1 CE, and he proclaimed the city's new name, Autocratis, or the "Ornament of the Galilee."
Autocratis' inhabitants did not join the resistance against Roman rule in the First Jewish Revolt of 66. They had signed a pact with the Roman army and opened the gates of the city to the Roman general Vespasian upon his arrival in 67. They were rewarded by having their city, like Tiberias, spared from the destruction that many other Jewish cities, including Jerusalem suffered.

Coins minted in the city at the time of the First Revolt carried the inscription Neronias and Eirenopolis, "City of Peace." After the revolt, symbology used on the coins was little different from other surrounding pagan city coins with depictions of laurel wreaths, palm trees, caduceus, and ears of barley.

Just prior to the Bar Kokhba revolt, the city's name was changed yet again to Diocaesarea. Following the Bar Kokhba revolt in 132-135, many Jewish refugees moved to Diocaesarea, making it the center of religious and spiritual life in the Galilee. Within the next few centuries, Diocaesarea also saw Rabbi Yehuda Hanasi, one of the writers of the Mishnah, a commentary on the Torah, join its community, and the moving, temporarily, of the Sanhedrin, the chief Jewish religious court, there. Jewish academies became based there, and Diocaeserea so named in honor of Zeus and the Roman Emperor, became not only a center of spiritual and religious study, but also a busy trade route town.

In 363, Diocaesarea was destroyed by an earthquake, but rebuilt soon afterwards, retaining its importance in the greater Jewish community of the Galilee, both socially and spiritually. Jews and pagan Romans lived peacefully alongside one another during the Byzantine period, and the city welcomed a number of Christians, as well.

In the 7th century, the city was incoporated into the expanding Umayyad dynasty, and al-jund coins were minted out of by the new rulers. [10] Umayyad rule was replaced by Abassid rule, and Arab and Islamic dynasties continued to control the city, with a brief interlude during the Crusades, up until its conquest by Israel in the war of 1948. Throughout this period of time, the city was known by the Arabicized name of the Greek original, i.e. Saffuriya.

In the 14 centuries between the rule of Herod of Antipas and that of the Ottoman empire, the city reportedly thrived as a center of learning, with a diverse, multiethnic and mutlireligious population of some 30,000 living in relatively peaceful coexistence.

The early 12th century brought the Crusaders to Palestine. They built a fortress and watchtower atop the hill, overlooking Saffuriya, and dedicated it to Anne and Joachim, the parents of the Virgin Mary. This became one of their local bases and they renamed the city La Sephorie. In 1187, the Crusaders were dispatched from La Sephorie to fight the Battle of Hattin, against Saladin. They were defeated at Hattin, and the Third Crusade ultimately failed as a whole.

After the defeat of the Crusaders by Saladin, the Ayubbid Sultan renamed the city Saffuriya. In the 15th century, Saffuriya came under the control of the Ottomans.

Though it lost its centrality and importance as a cultural center, the village thrived agriculturally. Even among Palestinians today, the villagers of Saffuriya remain famous for high quality pomegranate and molokhia (a local edible green used to make a kind of stew with chicken) cultivation.

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