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Archaeological Projects
undertaken by the CCAC

Caesarea Martima, Israel
1990-2000

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For eleven consecutive summers (1990 – 2000) the OU Archaeological Expedition to Caesarea Maritima, Israel, cooperated with an international consortium called the Combined Caesarea Expeditions. As part of this consortium, the OU expedition played a significant role in excavating the immense Roman harbor-city of Caesarea Maritima located near Tel Aviv. The ancient city was built by King Herod the Great over 2,000 years ago and was dedicated to his patrons the Roman emperor Augustus and Rome. Several hundred OU students have excavated at Caesarea and participated in major archaeological discoveries. The discoveries included the ruins of a huge temple that Herod dedicated to the Roman emperor and the goddess Roma, a large seaside hippodrome, numerous urban buildings, and treasures from the depths of its mammoth harbor.

Caesarea Maritima was one of the most famous harbor cities of antiquity. Today, the size of its immense harbor even rivals modern day harbors in the Mediterranean. Caesarea served as the capital of the Roman province of Judea and was the headquarters for the well-known Roman governor Pontius Pilate. The city is mentioned in the Bible as a place where Saint Peter made some of the first Christian converts and where St. Paul was detained until he was sent to his destiny in Rome. In addition to its huge harbor and famed temple, the city boasted of two large hippodromes, one (pictured above) by the side of the sea.

Among its important architectural ruins, Caesarea had a Roman Theater (now greatly restored) and two Roman aqueducts. The remains of the aqueducts, each more than seven miles in length, are the longest surviving Roman aqueducts in the world.

One of the most important discoveries in Near Eastern archaeology was the remains of a huge temple that King Herod dedicated to his patrons, Augustus Caesar and Rome. The immense temple was comparable in size to the famed Parthenon in Athens. Above are pictures of a section of the foundations for the temple and an artist’s reconstruction as it likely appeared in Herod’s day.

By the time of the Christian Crusades in the 13th century, Caesarea was fortified by the Crusaders and became a principal city that aided their attempts to occupy the Holy Lands.

For information contact Prof. Farland Stanley at fstanley@ou.edu

     

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