Tag Archives: Caesarea

Humphrey, ed., The Roman and Byzantine Near East, vol. 1 (1995)

J. H. Humphrey, ed., The Roman and Byzantine Near East: Some Recent Archaeological Research, vol. 1 (1995).

1. Alla Kushnir-Stein, “The Predecessor of Caesarea: On the Identification of Demetrias in South Phoenicia”: The city of Demetrias, attested only on coins, was the Seleucid name for the city of Strato’s Tower, a well-established polis that Octavian gave to Herod, who renamed it Caesarea.

2. Yosef Porath, “Herod’s ‘Amphitheatre’ at Caesarea: A Multipurpose Entertainment Building”: The building that Josephus calls an “amphitheatre” is closer in form to a hippodrome; “in Herod’s day there was no clear functional distinction between the institutions that we call today the canonical amphitheatre, stadium, and hippodrome” (25).

3. Yizhar Hirschfeld, “The Early Roman Bath and Fortress at Ramat Hanadiv Near Caesarea”: The city was a Hasmonean fortified village (a chorion), which Herod inherited, and which persisted as a Judean fort until the Great Revolt. The bath was a public bath near Caesarea that was in use by Jewish residents from the end of the 1st century BCE until the 67 CE revolt. In the Byzantine period, an aqueduct ran from the spring (at that point considered magical) to Shuni, where it was used for the Maiumas (Shuni’s water festivities).

4. Boaz Zissu, “Two Herodian Dovecotes: Horvat Abu Haf and Horvat ‘Aleq”: The towers at these two sites were columbaria that also probably functioned as watchtowers. Pigeons were raised as a source of food and fertilizer, and were very valuable. Columbaria are attested in Roman and Jewish literature.

5. Adam Zertal, “The Roman Siege-System at Khirbet al-Hamam (Narbata)”: The tel (located in northwest Samaria) was partially surrounded by a circumvallation wall with three (possibly four) Roman camps situated along it. The siege ramp made partial use of the road that ran into the town. Narbata was an influential regional capital. In 66 CE, Jews from Caesarea garrisoned themselves in the city, prompting the Roman general Gallus to lay siege to (and defeat) the city before heading to Jerusalem.

6. Benny Arubas and Haim Goldfus, “The Kilnworks of the Tenth Legion Fretensis”: The site served as the Roman army factory for pottery, bricks, and roofing tiles when Jerusalem was rebuilt as Aelia Capitolina. It was in use from the 1st through 3rd centuries CE.

7. Rivka Gersht, “Seven New Sculptural Pieces from Caesarea”: 1) A male figure that is probably Antoninus Pius (r. 138-161; the first sculpture of a Roman emperor from Caesarea); 2) A 4th-century woman, a private individual; 3) Aphrodite; 4) The base of a standing male; 5) The base of a standing figure; 6) and 7) Fragment of two garland sarcophagoi.

8. Moshe Fischer, with Antje Krug and Ze’ev Pearl, “The Basilica of Ascalon: Marble, Imperial Art, and Architecture in Roman Palestine”: The monumental decorations of the basilica show various deities. Four pilasters show Victory in various poses. Another shows Isis and a priest of Sarapis, “who seems only just to have emerged from childhood” (136). The building also likely housed Roman imperial cult.

9. Yoram Tsafrir, “The Synagogues at Capernaum and Meroth and the Dating of the Galilean Synagogue”: The synagogue at Capernaum was built in the 3rd century, during the time that the Galilean style of synagogue flourished. The synagogue at Meroth is in imitation of the Galliean-style synagogue and dates to the late 4th or early 5th century.

10. Ze’ev Weiss and Ehud Netzer, “New Evidence for Late-Roman and Byzantine Sepphoris”: During the Byzantine period, Sepphoris was a flourishing city. Most of the population was probably Jewish. One house (the “Nile festival house”) contains several mosaics, one of which commemorates the flooding of the Nile. At the intersection of the cardo and decumanus, under Bishop Eutropius, “the sidewalks were renovated and repaved with mosaics that featured geometric designs, and some changes were made to the entrances of the shops” (171); Eutropius also built a church. Several synagogues were also built in the city; one contains an ornate mosaic floor, the features of which all point along the axis that leads to Jerusalem. The city burned down toward the end of the Byzantine period.

11. David Adan-Bayewitz, “A Lamp Mould from Sepphoris and the Location of Workshops for Lamp and Common Pottery Manufacture in the Northern Palestine”: Lamp and figurine workshops were predominately located in cities, as is the pattern in the broader Roman world, whereas other pottery was produced, by and large, in rural areas. Rural areas certainly had the raw materials to make lamps and figurines, so it is likely that the smaller items were in higher demand in cities than in villages.

12. Rachel Hachlili, “Late Antique Jewish Art from the Golan”: The motifs in the art of Late Antique Jewish Golan were those of Jewish art more generally. They include:

  • Menorah (more common in synagogues than private houses)
  • Animals (including eagles, a peacock, a few birds, lions and lionesses, fish, and a snake)
  • Human figures (including people and mythological figures)
  • Geometric designs (rosettes, vine scrolls, wreaths, stylized “Trees of Life”)
  • Local variations on classical column capitals (mostly Ionic)

Most of the sculpture is carved out of basalt, as was the local tradition. The styles were in use for a long time, and no chronology can be established. In synagogues, the Torah shrine followed the style of the aedicula, with “a stone platform with columns surmounted by a lintel usually decorated by a Syrian gable” (189), inside of which a wooden Ark was placed. The aedicula pointed towards Jerusalem.

13. Clive Foss, “The Near Eastern Countryside in Late Antiquity: A Review Article”: A review of one work on Byzantine Syria and two on the Byzantine Negev. Syria flourished in the Byzantine period until the late 6th century, when it collapsed due to plague and the Persian invasion. The Negev, on the other hand, saw a peaceful transition between the Byzantine and Arab periods

14. Peter Fabian, “The Late-Roman Military Camp at Beer Sheba: A New Discovery”: Previously thought lost, the Roman military camp was located at the center of Byzantine Beersheba. In the Roman and Byzantine periods, it was a major fort (likely a headquarters) guarding the roads from the northern Negev to the Gulf of Eilat.

15. David F. Graf, “The Via Nova Traiana in Arabia Petraea”: Petra, not the Roman provincial capital Bostra, was the head of the Trajanic road. Two routes exist between Petra and Ṣadaqa, both of which attest milestones, either of which could be the Trajanic road. The road then continues south from Ṣadaqa to ‘Aqaba, again attested by milestones as well as by preserved stretches of pavement,

15. [sic] J. Wilson and Eleanor E. Myers, “Low-Altitude Aerial Photography at Petra”: A collection of photographs taken from an unmanned, tethered blimp at Petra showing archaeological features that were not otherwise visible.

16. Zbigniew T. Fiema, Robert Schick, and Khairieh ‘Amr, “The Petra Church Project: Interim Report, 1992-1994”: The church at Petra was built in the late 5th century and was in use until the mid-6th century, when it collapsed and burned down. It was subsequently robbed. The church contained several mosaics and a library of papyrus scrolls dating from the 5th-6th century (the Petra Papyri). Excavation also recovered extensive finds (metal building materials, some pottery dating to the 5th-7th centuries, stone and marble furnishings, wall mosaics and plaster, glass windows panes and lamps, some epigraphic finds dating from the Nabatean period to the Byzantine period, and animal remains).

17. Jean-Pierre Sodini, “L’organisation liturgique des églises en Palestine et Judée”: A review of Yoram Tsafrir, ed., Ancient Churches Revealed (1993).

18. Leah Di Segni, “The Involvement of Local, Municipal and Provincial Authorities in Urban Building in Late Antique Palestine and Arabia”: In Late Antiquity, churches were built by bishops and priests, but also by village officials. Municipal and provincial authorities usually built civil buildings; work was overseen by various aristocrats and local and military officials. Funding for public buildings came from city or provincial treasuries.

19. Kenneth G. Holum, “Inscriptions from the Imperial Revenue Office of Byzantine Caesarea Palaestinae”: Editions of three of the six inscriptions from the imperial revenue office at Caesarea Maritima. One is the text of Rom 13:3 (“If you would not fear the authority, then do good and you will receive praise from it” [339]). The second mentions two classes of civil servants working in the same administrative bureau. The third mentions another officer in the same bureau. One of the officials named is a numerarios (an accountant in the civil administration), meaning that the bureau dealt with the revenue and expenditures of Byzantine Palestine.

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