Caesarea Maritima: A Retrospective After Two MillenniaAvner Raban and Kenneth G. Holum (Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1996) 694 pp., $266.00
This handsome, folio-size volume collects more than 40 articles on Caesarea Maritima, making the site on Israel’s seacoast, in the words of the editors, one of the most “well-known of the classical Mediterranean cities.” Chronologically, the volume runs the gamut from classical antiquity to the medieval period; the archaeology concerns discoveries on land and sea, conveyed in both technical reports and interpretive studies. There is a section on inscriptions, another on Caesarea’s Jewish and Christian communities, and even two semipopular articles on maritime archaeology.
The editors’ ambitious and ardent hope for this book is that its contents “will reveal a continuity between the stones of the ancient city now being excavated and the culture that flourished there,” and that study of the city’s archaeology “will promote understanding of how Caesarea created, sustained, and transmitted art, ideas, and other manifestations of culture.” As much as I share such a hope, it will require a huge effort to read so hefty a volume. Like most books of this genre, similar to a festschrift, many articles here will get lost, but any student wanting to be up-to-date on the archaeology and literature of this great site will have to use this volume. One hopes that its exorbitant price will not deter too many libraries from buying it.