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Caesarea, Israel. Halfway on the high road between Tel Aviv and Haifa.

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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 supprsssed 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 enerything that was before them). So of course, this mosque has nothing to do with the Arabs in Israel who call themseves “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 independance. Its inhabitants moved to several Arab villages in the Galilee, Israel.
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Thanks for sharing your experiences Nan. Happy New Year


Connie, not sure about "deserving it".?? Why oh why should my life be special? and yet it keeps seeming that way. I'm sure I've related the story of when Kris Kringle came to our house in Mexico when I was very young, with a large leather bound book (detailing how many times my sister and I had transgressed or been helpful). We believed in Santa for a looong time. Maybe that childish wonderment shifted my karma. I don't know. I don't feel special. But I can not deny that my life has been wonderful, with amazing experiences. Maybe it is just luck. So often I wonder what I'm "supposed" to be doing that i'm missing.
Hey, the New Year is dawning, let's be positive and hope for greatness! love you and Elin, nan

Oh nan, you're so lucky. I'm sure you deserve it. Keep writing about your adventures. They are very interesting. connie


Ahh, we were there from 1984 -88. Husband at the US Embassy in Tel Aviv; we lived in Herzliya Petuach and our son went the the International school (grades 5 - 8). My first 'dig' was a few blocks from our house, as a parent chaperone for the 6th graders. Discovered a real passion for it and ultimately volunteered on 8 sites. The Israeli professionals were wonderfully welcoming (in many countries vols are not welcome) and once you proved you didn't steal, were reliable, and not toooo clumsy, they'd 'pass' you along to colleagues at different digs. Besides the Boat and Caesarea, the most memorable one was Tel Aphek-Antipatris where I had the extreme good fortune (mainly because I nagged Prof. Kochavi until he let me explore some concentric rings of color in the earth - long story) to uncover the first known pottery kiln in a Middle Bronze period. And then we found a skeleton in it, and another kiln with two sets of remains. "Our" find was female, the others a man and child. No explanation for why they were buried in the kiln (they were not cremated). My dream is to get back to Israel and track down the publications from that dig. And see the gazillion places Elin has introduced me to - and I thought I'd seen a lot of the country in 4 years! nan

Thanks Nan, we went to see the boat while it was having the 'treatment'. On the long original video the brothers talked about that double rainbow. It was very moving. Gosh, you were a part of that history. I imagine you have memories that will never leave you. How long were you living in Israel? Where else were you a part of the excavations? It was lovely to see the boat when it came out into the fresh air

nanlein hope i got the right one!


Liz, look back at puzzle of Elin's - there's a bit of dialogue among Elin, Connie and me about archaeology and diving at Caesarea. oops, i've lost the link. will post it momentarily.
You are right, the experiences encountered in Israel were on a totally different level than any where else. I am totally indebted to Elin for reviving these memories - having the fantastic pictures she finds and commentary make it all so real again. One of the bumper stickers I liked a lot was "Israel is real." Guess that sums it up for me. Thanks for commenting. nan

I'm really envious of actually taking part in the dig Nan. What an experience that must have been. Were you diving on Herod's harbour?

Now, I'm envious. I would love to see this, too. I guess I'll live vicariously thru your photos and histories Elin and your memories, nan. And your memories liz55. This photo is beautiful and I can't wait until tomorrow to see what comes next Elin. Thanks so much for doing this. I love it more every day. connie


Ooohh, I just want to jump in with my trusty Sheffield trowel! Did get to work on an emergency dig where one of the gates was uncovered. Think i told you about that already. Also diving with the underwater archaeologist. Many memories...agree with Liz, it is a wonderful site to visit. Thanks for everything, Elin! nan

Hi Elin - just love Caesarea! It's usually one of the first places we take folk on the tours. It paints such a vivid picture of the complexities of Herod's character. I think the way the Antiquities people have restored it is amazing. First visit was in 1990 and it has been developed so well over the years.
So glad you are taking us there - thanks!

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