Biblical Archaeology Review 30:4, July/August 2004

Strata: Avner Raban: An Appreciation

Explored Caesarea Harbor

By Kenneth G. Holum

On February 11, 2004, the archaeological world lost Avner Raban, who passed away in London while on leave from the University of Haifa, where he was a professor in the Department of Maritime Civilizations and the Recanati Institute of Maritime Studies.

Avner received his Ph.D. from the Hebrew University and spent his entire career at Haifa. His bibliography comes to nearly 200 entries, including articles, reviews, museum catalogues, excavation reports and a number of edited and authored books. He excavated at many sites in Israel and abroad, but today his name is connected above all with Caesarea.

Avner first explored Caesarea scientifically in 1975, when the Israel Electric Company required a survey while planning a new power plant on the coast just south of the ancient site, and since then he excavated at Caesarea on land and underwater, without letup, one or more seasons every year. In the 1980s he joined a group of diving archaeologists from North America in the Caesarea Ancient Harbour Excavation Project, and in the 1990s he formed the Combined Caesarea Expeditions with Joseph Patrich and me, which still continues today.

As hundreds of archaeological volunteers, students and professional colleagues will attest, Avner was a person of extraordinary personal magnetism, persistence and eloquence. He was a strong and skilled diver whose techniques and style many an aspiring underwater archaeologist tried to emulate. He and his colleagues refined underwater strategies and technical apparatus that brought harbor archaeology in the Mediterranean to a new scientific plateau, and for students and volunteers he provided excellent training and a rare hands-on experience.

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