Caesarea

/see'zeuh ree"euh, ses'euh-, sez'euh-/, n.
1. an ancient seaport in NW Israel: Roman capital of Palestine.
2. ancient name of Kayseri.

* * *

modern Ḥorbat Qesari

Ancient seaport, Palestine.

Located on the coast of present-day Israel south of the city of Haifa, it was originally a Phoenician settlement. Taken by the Romans and rebuilt in the 1st century BC by Herod the Great, it was renamed for his patron Augustus. The capital of the Roman province of Judaea in AD 6, it was the site of an early Christian church and was often visited by St. Paul. It later declined under Byzantine and Arab rule and was destroyed by the Mamlūk sultan Baybars I in the 13th century.

* * *

▪ ancient city, Israel
Hebrew  orbat Qesari 

      (“Ruins of Caesarea”), ancient port and administrative city of Palestine, on the Mediterranean coast of present-day Israel south of Haifa. It is often referred to as Caesarea Palaestinae, or Caesarea Maritima, to distinguish it from Caesarea Philippi near the headwaters of the Jordan River. Originally an ancient Phoenician settlement known as Straton's (Strato's) Tower, it was rebuilt and enlarged in 22–10 BC by Herod the Great, king of Judaea under the Romans, and renamed for his patron, the emperor Caesar Augustus. It served as a port for Herod's newly built city at Sebaste (Greek: Augusta), the ancient Samaria of central Palestine. Caesarea had an artificial harbour of large concrete blocks and typical Hellenistic-Roman public buildings. An aqueduct brought water from springs located almost 10 miles (16 km) to the northeast. Caesarea served as a base for the Herodian navy, which operated in aid of the Romans as far as the Black Sea.

      The city became the capital of the Roman province of Judaea in AD 6. Subsequently, it was an important centre of early Christianity; (Christianity) in the New Testament it is mentioned in Acts in connection with Peter, Philip the Apostle, and, especially, Paul, who was imprisoned there before being sent to Rome for trial. According to the 1st-century AD historian Flavius Josephus, the Jewish revolt (Jewish Revolt, First) against Rome, which culminated in the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple in AD 70, was touched off by an incident at Caesarea in AD 66. During the Bar Kokhba revolt of AD 132–135, the Romans tortured and killed the 10 greatest leaders and sages of Palestinian Jewry, including Rabbi Akiba. Caesarea was almost certainly the place of execution of Rabbi Akiba and the others according to tradition (c. AD 135). The death of these Ten Martyrs is still commemorated in the liturgy for Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement).

      After this Caesarea became the capital of the province renamed Syria-Palaestina by the emperor Hadrian. Under the Byzantine Empire it was capital of the province of Palaestina Prima. The church historian and biblical topographer Eusebius (c. 260/264–c. 340) served as bishop of Caesarea. The city declined under later Byzantine and Arab rule. Its port and part of the ancient citadel were rebuilt by the crusaders; the city was successively taken and retaken by Muslim and crusader forces, until finally it was captured and razed by the Mamlūk sultan Baybars I in 1265. Between 1884 and 1948 Bosnian Muslims had a settlement there. In 1940 the fishing kibbutz of Sedot Yam was founded just south of the ancient site; this settlement has built a jetty over the Roman and crusader breakwater. It also engages in agriculture and operates a resort hotel.

      Excavations undertaken since 1950 have uncovered a Roman temple, amphitheatre, hippodrome (which seated 20,000), the aqueduct, and other ruins of Roman and later times. Of particular interest is a Roman inscription, found in 1961, which mentions Pontius Pilate, Roman procurator of Judaea at the time of Jesus' crucifixion. This is the first mention of Pilate ever found that can be accurately dated within his lifetime.

      Further excavations in the 1970s and '80s, both on land and underwater, gave a clearer picture of the artificial harbour built by Herod the Great. It was probably the first harbour ever constructed entirely in the open sea (i.e., without the benefit of any protective fringing bay or peninsula) and was protected from the sea primarily by two huge breakwaters built of concrete blocks and filled with stone rubble. This spacious harbour, which Josephus compared favourably with that of Athens at Piraeus, was one of the technological marvels of the ancient world and helped make Caesarea a major port for trade between the Roman Empire and Asia.

* * *


Universalium. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • CAESAREA — CAESAREA, ancient city on the coast midway between Tel AVIV and Haifa. From Ancient Times to the Mamluks Caesarea was originally called Straton s Tower after its founder Straton (Abd Ashtart), who was probably a ruler of Sidon in the 4th century… …   Encyclopedia of Judaism

  • Caesarea —   [lateinisch »die Kaiserliche«], griechisch Kaisạreia, Name mehrerer Städte des Römischen Reiches zu Ehren eines Kaisers:    1) Caesarea Cappadociae, in Zentralanatolien, Hauptstadt von Kappadokien, heute Kayseri.    2) Caesarea Mauret …   Universal-Lexikon

  • Caesarea —     Caesarea     † Catholic Encyclopedia ► Caesarea     A Latin titular see, and the seat of a residential Armenian bishopric, in Cappadocia (Asia Minor). The native name of this city was Mazaka, after Mosoch, the legendary Cappadocian hero. It… …   Catholic encyclopedia

  • Caesarea — [ses΄ə rē′ə, sez΄ə rē′ə, sē΄zərē′ə] 1. seaport in ancient Palestine, on the Mediterranean, south of Haifa, Israel: Roman capital of Palestine 2. city in ancient Palestine, near Mt. Hermon: also Caesarea Philippi 3. ancient name for KAYSERI …   English World dictionary

  • Caesarea — Latin city name derived from CAESAR (Cf. Caesar), applied in honor of the emperors to some new and existing cities in the Roman Empire, including Kayseri, Turkey; Shaizar, Syria, and Cherchell, Algeria (representing a French spelling of an Arabic …   Etymology dictionary

  • Caesarea — For other uses, see Caesarea (disambiguation). Caesarea Caesarea Maritima Hebrew …   Wikipedia

  • Caesarea — Den Namen Caesarea trugen folgende in der Antike zu Ehren Caesars oder eines römischen Kaisers benannte Städte: in der kleinasiatischen Landschaft Kappadokien, siehe Kayseri; an der Mittelmeerküste Israels, siehe Caesarea Maritima; am… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • CAESAREA — I. CAESAREA Mauritaniae urbs. Plin l. 3. c. 3. Cabo Figalo Pineto. In Africa. Celebris in Histor. Rom. Afris dicta Tiguident, seu vetus urbs, a Califis destructa, A. C. 959. Rudera magnitudinem loquuntur. Sub Arabibus, divitiis Academiisque, unde …   Hofmann J. Lexicon universale

  • Caesarea — noun Name of numerous cities and locations in the Roman Empire, among them Caesarea Mazaca, capital of Cappadocia (modern Kayseri) and Caesarea Maritima, capital of province Palestine …   Wiktionary

  • Caesarea — Built on the coast by Herod the Great in honour of Caesar Augustus; it became the official residence of Roman prefects. Its inhabitants were both Jews and Gentiles, and the Christian way was brought there by Philip (Acts 8:40; 21:8). Peter became …   Dictionary of the Bible

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.