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The eastern wing of the Roman Hippodrome/Amphitheater, Caesarea , Israel.

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The Hippodrome/Hippo-Stadium/Amphitheater = dual theater. The oval (sometimes round) theater was used for horse racings, chariot racings, athletic games, gladiators fightings and plays.
The eastern and southern wings of the amphitheater that were preserved, contained 7500 seats. Animal paintings were exposed along the walls surrounding the arena.
Later, 5000 additional seats were added when the west wing was built by the sea, on sand which was accumulated as the result of building the harbor. The western wing’s seats were destroyed in a later period as a result of robbery of the stones for re-use and due to erosion by the sea.

Caesarea was a port city, founded between the years 25-13 BCE. It served as the capital of Israel in Roman times and was named after the Roman Emperor/Caesar Augustus. Today, the Old City is a National Park and next to it is the modern neighborhood of Caesarea.

The first settlement in this area was at the end of the Persian era around 350 BCE with a small Phoenician dock.
In 90 BCE the site was conquered by Alexander Yanai (Alexander Jannaeus), king of the Jewish Hasmonean dynasty who annexed it to the Judea kingdom of the Hasmoneans.
With the conquest of Israel by Rome in 63 BCE, Pompey annexed Caesarea to the province of Syria.
In 31 BCE, Gaius Octavius (later named Augustus Caesar) gave the city, along with the coastal region of Israel to King Herod, who ruled Israel under the patronage of Rome.
King Herod built a large port city and named it Caesarea, after his patron. The city was built as a non-Jewish one, with all sort of playgrounds, an amphitheater, a theater (now renovated), bathhouses and idolatrous temples.
Herod also built a huge port, described by the Jewish historian Flavius Josephus as greater than that of Piraeus, Greece.
After Herod's death in 4 BCE, the importance of Caesarea had increased and in the year 6 CE it became the seat of the Judean Roman commissioners. The city had a mixed population, but her character was distinctly Hellenistic,
so Jewish residents had often been harassed by their gentile neighbors.
During the rule of the Roman procurator Gessius Florus in 66 CE, a chain of events near the synagogue broke bloody riots between Jews and gentiles which gave the signal for the beginning of the Great Jewish Revolt against Rome.
Vespasian, (9-79 CE), who suppressed the revolt of the Jews against the Romans (with his son Titus who destroyed the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem and exiled many of the Jews) raised the status of city to a colony.
After the suppression of the Bar Kokhba revolt against the Romans (132-136 CE) the Romans changed the name of the province of Israel from “Judea” into "Syria Palestina", renaming the country after the Philistine people, who were already extinct at that time, in order to cut any ties between the people of Israel and the land of Israel.
Later in Roman period, the Jewish community in Caesarea developed again and it became an important Jewish center.
During the Byzantine period, Caesarea was the metropolis of "Palestina Prima" and an important Christian center and reach a population of 100,000.
Caesarea was conquered in the 7th century by the Muslims along with all the land of Israel and was abandoned.
At the end of the 12th century, the control over Caesarea moved on and off between the Christian Crusaders and the Muslim forces of Saladin.
In 1265, Caesarea was conquered by the Muslim Mamluks and was (guess what?...) destroyed along with the other coastal towns in Israel, never to be rebuilt again.
In 1882, a group European Muslim Bosniaks of Slavic origin (from Bosnia/Yugoslavia) settled on the ruins of Caesarea and built themselves houses using the foundations of the destroyed ancients monuments, taking hewn stones from the destroyed Herod's palace and from other buildings including the Crusader church for their construction. (nan!!! Are you OK? LOL)
The minaret that can be seen today in old Caesarea is of the Bosniaks’ mosque that wasn’t destroyed by us. (unlike the Cusaders/Muslims/Mamluks who destroyed everything that was before them). So of course, this mosque has nothing to do with the Arabs in Israel who call themselves “Palestinians”.
Although the Bosniaks were in good relations with their neighboring Jews, the small village was taken by the Israeli forces in Feb.1948 during our war of independence. Its inhabitants moved to several Arab villages in the Galilee, Israel.
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Yes, I guess everyone who could would show up for the fun. I was just thinking about people today. A lot of folks I know don't go to movies anymore, because of the cost and miss vacations because they can't afford to go. I just wondered if this was a sport for the rich or if attendance came from across the population. Thanks


connie, the people came from the city. There was no TV or movies or books to read at that time so this was their entertainment. If there were not enough people, they wouldn't add 5000 seats in the west wing.

"During the Byzantine period, Caesarea was the metropolis of "Palestina Prima" and an important Christian center and reach a population of 100,000."

This is wonderful to see. I see that we're getting a look at the animal paintings along the wall. I can imagine what this was like back in it's day.

Do you know if there were actually this many people who showed up for the events planned? Where did they all come from? I'm guessing that Caesarea wasn't inhabited by just rich people, or was it? Was there a charge for attending the events or were they attended by the wealthy of the area? I'm just curious about it all. Thanks Elin for sharing this photo. connie

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