Robert Jehu Bull, archaeologist and church historian, died last August at age 92.
Bull was emeritus director of the Institute for Archaeological Research at Drew University and professor emeritus of church history at Drew’s Theological School. He began teaching at Drew in 1955 and retired in 1991.
Bull is best known for his archaeological work at Caesarea Maritima on the Mediterranean coast of Israel about 35 miles north of Tel Aviv. He served as the director of the Joint Expedition to Caesarea Maritima from 1971 to 1996, supervising summer excavation seasons—with student and volunteer participants from around the world—and coordinating the publication of their findings.
Caesarea’s Crusader fortifications, Byzantine streets and Roman structures still impress thousands of visitors each year. Bull’s excavations uncovered the Herodian plan of the city, with its network of streets, monumental buildings, storage vaults and even sewers that flushed into the sea. The expedition also excavated later periods at the site, discovering, among other structures, a third-century A.D. Mithraeum—a place of worship for the mystery religion of Mithraism—that had been converted from an earlier vaulted warehouse built in the Herodian period.
Caesarea’s Mithraeum is the only one ever found in Israel. Widely practiced in the Roman Empire from the first to fourth centuries, Mithraism—a cult of the Persian god Mithra—was especially popular among the Roman military.