14 June 2017

Altar of the Temple of Herod the Great discovered in Caesarea Maritima

The new archeological finds in the temple of Caesarea Maritima, city rich with Christian heritage. The project will continue thanks to a donation of 100 million shekels.

Archaeology, Culture, and other Religions

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The temple of Caesarea Marittima, one of the most majestic monuments built by Herod the Great, is enriched with a new, very important discovery.

After opening the Hippodrome, the Theater and the Herodion for the visitors, the authorities of the largest archaeological park in Israel focused on the temple area that was formerly standing in front of the port entrance, defined by the historian Giuseppe Flavio 'impressive for its size and beauty'.

PETER GENDELMAN
Israel Antiquities Authority
"For the first time, the remnants of the high altar placed under the steps that went up to the temple were brought to light. It was a magnificent vaulted structure, facing the platform, also built by Herod the Great.”

The structure that Herod built in Caesarea belongs to a particularly complex type of altar. The most important altar in the Roman empire is the Ara Pacis, which was built in Rome by Augustus.
A sacrificial altar enclosed by decorated walls, up to 5 meters high.

PETER GENDELMAN
Israel Antiquities Authority
"The other special discovery we made was the remainder of legions banners that were probably placed around the altar. We know this was a typical practice of Roman legionaries. "

Enclosing the altar with decorated walls was a specific practice of the western areas of the Roman Empire. That of Caesarea is therefore a unique structure in the Middle East.

PETER GENDELMAN
Israel Antiquities Authority
"This even reinforces the idea that Caesarea was regarded by Herod the Great as a sort of connection between his kingdom and Rome, the center of the empire.”

The name of Caesarea is not only linked to the Roman Empire and ancient history. Even in the Christian era, the city assumed a prominent position.

Fr. EUGENIO ALLIATA, ofm
Archeologist - Studium Biblicum Franciscanum
"First of all, we heard of this place in the Acts of the Apostles, in the New Testament: Peter went to the city of Caesarea and his preaching led to the conversion to Christianity of the Roman centurion called Cornelius.”

Secondly, we know the story of Saint Paul, who was captured in Caesarea and restrained in Herod's Pretoria, which archaeologists recently could safely identify.

Precisely here, in the Pretorium Palace, during the persecutions, many of the first Christians were led to be prosecuted. Many of them suffered martyrdom.

Fr. EUGENIO ALLIATA, ofm
Archeologist - Studium Biblicum Franciscanum
"These are the martyrs of Caesarea, some also famous, like the Marine soldier who was asked to choose between the sword and the gospel: he chose the Gospel. "