In 40 BC, the Roman senate pronounced Herod king of Judea – making him just another one of Rome’s many client kings. But Herod was a man of great vision who wanted nothing less than to copy Rome’s glory in this tiny Jewish country. To that end Herod embarked on an extensive building program unparalleled in the known world.
Herod constructed huge fortified palaces, great temples, amphitheaters and aqueducts – but by far his most ambitious project was the creation of a brand new port city he called Caesarea in honor of his Roman masters. On the Mediterranean coast, half way between modern Tel Aviv and Haifa, the city arose dressed with all the splendor Herod could muster. It had a temple dedicated to his mentor, Caesar Augustus, an amphitheater, theater, hippodrome and baths – all clad in imported white marble.
Since Caesarea has no springs, Herod built an aqueduct stretching over nine miles to supply the city.
Meanwhile, despite all the difficulties they encountered, Herod’s engineers performed near miracles constructing the harbor. They employed ahead of its time, and even created a unique sluicing system that periodically flushed the harbor to prevent a build up of sand: a problem that continued to plague all other Mediterranean ports for generations. In just over a decade they had built the largest artificial harbor in the ancient world.
Unfortunately, the site Herod had chosen for his new maritime center was not only lacking even a natural bay – but he had placed it on an unstable fault of the Mediterranean shore. As soon as it was finished, the harbor of Caesarea began to sink. Today, most of what remains is buried under sand beneath the water.
In 6 AD Rome annexed Judea, and Caesarea became the seat of the Roman governor. The only archaeological evidence of Pontius Pilate came to light here recently when his name was found carved in stone.
This page is part of the book The Holy Land of JesusShare this page with your friends
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