Biblical Archaeology Review 8:3, May/June 1982

Caesarea Maritima: The Search for Herod’s City

By Robert J. Bull

Herod, the ancient world’s master builder, constructed a magnificent port city on the Mediterranean coast of Palestine. He called it Caesarea in honor of his Roman patron Augustus Caesar. Maritima distinguished it from the many other cities that bore this much honored name, notably Caesarea Philippa, another city in Herod’s kingdom, located inland at the source of the Jordan River.

According to the first century historian Josephus, who left us a detailed description, the port of Caesarea Maritima was as large as Piraeus, the port of Athens. If so, Caesarea was one of the two or three largest ports on the Mediterranean, indeed in the world.

The port of Caesarea was all the more remarkable because it was located on a 40-mile length of the Mediterranean shore that had no natural harbor, bay or inlet. The Mediterranean coast in the area of Caesarea is an uninterrupted line of sand and cliffs. Here, for the first time in history, Herod constructed a port on the open sea without benefit of any natural features whatever.

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