Banias (Paneas), or Caesarea-Philippi, was an impressive Greco-Roman city located near a flowing spring – one of the sources of the Jordan river, on the foothills of the Hermon mountain. A Roman sanctuary, which included temples and ritual courtyards, was built near the sacred grotto of the Greco-Roman God Pan. The ancient city, named after Pan, was located to the south of the springs.
Tell Dan, which is located 4KM to the west of Banias, was the earlier site of settlement from the Early Bronze age through the Iron (Israelite) Age. The ancient city – named Leshem or Laish – covers a large area – the mount size is 200Dunam (20 Hectares) and was one of the largest in the region. The springs of Banias were probably, even at the Canaanite period, a sacred sacrifice site that served the Canaanite city.
The Hebrew name “Hermon”, the mighty mountain above Banias, may have been based on the root word Herem (means out of limits or “Holy”). The Song of Solomon praises the area (4 8): “Come with me from Lebanon, my spouse, with me from Lebanon: look from the top of Amana, from the top of Shenir and Hermon, from the lions’ dens, from the mountains of the leopards”. The area is indeed is a fertile valley with plenty of water coming down from Mt Hermon and the hills around it.