|Qaysariyah||Early Islamic Arabic||قايساريياه|
|Caesarea near Sebastos||Greek and Latin sources|||
|Caesarea of Straton||Greek and Latin sources|||
|Caesarea of Palestine||Greek and Latin sources|||
|Stratonos pyrgos||Ancient Greek|||
|II||Late Ottoman (Bosnian)|
|IIIa||Crusader (Louis IX)|
|IIIb||Crusader (pre-Louis IX)|
|VII||Late Byzantine/Early Umayyad|
|III.1||Late Arab||900*-1200 CE|
In A.D. 640 Caesarea fell to Arab invaders. This time the destruction was complete and irretrievable. Battered columns and the empty shells of buildings stood nakedly above heaps of tangled debris.
|V||Final Byzantine||614-640 CE||
In A.D. 614 Persian armies captured Caesarea, but withdrew by A.D. 629. This invasion caused widespread destruction and brought the Main Byzantine Period to a close, but recovery was rapid and the city was restored
|VI.1||Main Byzantine||450/550*-614 CE|
|VI.2||Main Byzantine||330 - 450/550* CE|
It seems probable that during the Late Roman Period a major catastrophe befell the city, causing a partial collapse of the vaulted warehouses along the waterfront, and the destruction of major buildings within the city. Such a city-wide disaster alone would account for the rebuilding of the warehouse vaulting and the buildings above it, as well as the virtual absence of intact Roman structures in the city proper.
|VII.3||Roman||10 BCE - 100* CE|
L4 — Destruction PhaseLater they suggested that the subsidence had a neotectonic origin.
The first to second century A.D. basal rubble unit (L4) was found on the carbonate cemented sandstone bedrock (locally known as kurkar) and was characteristic of a high-energy water deposit (Fig. 2 ). The rubble was framework supported with little surrounding matrix and composed mainly of cobble-sized material, which was well rounded, heavily encrusted (e.g., bryozoans, calcareous algae), and bored (Lithophaga lithophaga, Cliona) on its upper surface. The rubble had variable lithologies including basalts, gabbros, and dolomites, all of which are absent on the Israeli coastal plain and were likely transported to the site as ship ballast (probably from Cyprus). The surrounding matrix was composed of shell material (mainly Glycymeris insubricus), pebbles, and coarse sand. The pottery sherds found in this unit were well rounded, encrusted, and dated to the first to second century A.D. The date for this unit and its sedimentological characters clearly records the existence of high-energy conditions within the inner harbor about 100-200 yr after the harbor was built. This evidence of high-energy water conditions indicates that the outer harbor breakwaters must have been severely degraded by this time to allow waves to penetrate the inner confines of the harbor (Fig. 3, A and B).Figure 3
Figure 3. A–D: Possible harbor configurations through time based on stratigraphy from intermediate and inner harbor. C is also based upon earlier archaeological excavations from within inner harbor described by Raban (1996).
Reinhardt and Raban (1998)
Indication of the rapid destruction of the outer harbor breakwaters toward the end of the first century A.D. is derived from additional data recovered from the outer harbor. In the 1993 season, a late first century A.D. shipwreck was found on the southern submerged breakwater. The merchant ship was carrying lead ingots that were narrowly dated to A.D. 83-96 based on the inscription "IMP.DOMIT.CAESARIS.AUG.GER." which refers to the Roman Emperor Domitianus (Raban, 1999). The wreck was positioned on the harbor breakwater, indicating that this portion of the structure must have been submerged to allow a ship to run-up and founder on top (Raban, 1999; Fig. 3B). Because Josephus praised the harbor in grand terms and referred to it as a functioning entity around A.D. 75-79, and yet portions of the breakwater were submerged by A.D. 83-96, we conclude that there was a rapid deterioration and submergence of the harbor, probably through seismic activity.
Evidence for neotectonic subsidence of the harbor has been reinforced by separate geologic studies (stratigraphic analysis of boreholes, Neev et al., 1987; seismic surveys, Mart and Perecman, 1996) that recognize faults in the shallow continental shelf and in the proximity of Caesarea; one fault extends across the central portion of the harbor. However, obtaining precise dates for movement along the faults is difficult. Archaeological evidence of submergence can be useful for dating and determining the magnitude of these events: however, at Caesarea the evidence is not always clear.Neotectonic subsidence is unlikely. As pointed out by Dey et al(2014), the coastline appears to have been stable for the past ~2000 years
The submergence of the outer harbor break-waters at the end of the first century A.D. could have also been due to seismic liquefaction of the sediment. Excavations have shown that the harbor breakwaters were constructed on well-sorted sand that could have undergone liquefaction with seismic activity. In many instances the caissons are tilted (15°-20° from horizontal; Raban et al., 1999a) and at different elevations, which could be due to differential settling (area K; Fig. 1Goodman-Tchernov and Austin (2015) examined and dated cores taken seaward of the harbor and identified 2 tsunamite deposits (see Tsunamogenic Evidence) including one which dates to to the 1st-2nd century CE. Although, it is tempting to correlate the 1st-2nd century CE tsunamite deposits of Goodman-Tchernov and Austin (2015) to the L4 destruction phase identified in the harbor ( Reinhardt and Raban, 1999), the chronologies presented by Goodman-Tchernov and Austin (2015) suffer from some imprecision due to the usual paucity of dating material that one encounters with cores. Further, the harbor subsidence and breakwater degradation dated by Reinhardt and Raban (1999) may not have been caused by seismic activity. If it was related to seismic activity, the early 2nd century CE Incense Road Quake is a better candidate than the 115 CE Trajan Quake because it would have produced higher intensities in Caesarea.). However, the tilting could also be due to undercutting by current scour from large-scale storms (or tsunamis) and not exclusively seismic activity. Our data from the inner harbor cannot definitively ascribe the destruction of the harbor at the end of the first century A.D. to a seismic event, although some of the data support this conclusion. However, regardless of the exact mechanism, our sedimentological evidence from the inner harbor and the remains of the late first century A.D. shipwreck indicate that the submergence of the outer breakwater occurred early in the life of the harbor and was more rapid and extensive than previously thought.Figure 1
View of ancient harbor area showing rubble spill of ancient break-waters, probable configuration of Herod's harbor,
fault lines extending through harbor, and excavation areas.
JW: Area K is top left
Reinhardt and Raban (1998)
At the very deepest spot where the airlift penetrated, beneath huge stone blocks which teetered precariously above the divers' heads, was uncovered a large wooden beam. Beneath its protective cover the divers found the only whole amphora of our dig. This proved to be a second century Roman vessel. The fact that it was found under the tumbled beam and masonry would indicate that these things were catapulted into the sea at the same time. Since there is a strong earthquake recorded in the area of Caesarea in the year A.D. 130, it may possibly be that the harbor installations of Herod were destroyed at that time.
Other finds recovered from the original bottom, now under fifteen feet of sand, included numerous sherds of second century amphorae, corroded bronze coins, ivory hairpins, colorful bits of glass and other objects of the Roman period. Two objects were of special significance. One was a small lead baling seal with a standing winged figure. It has a pinpoint hole near its center, and a rather deep, depressed line on the back of it, as though made by a wire.3
The other object was probably the most important thing discovered at Caesarea this past summer. It was a small commemorative coin or medal made of an unidentified alloy, about the size of a ten-cent piece, with two holes drilled through it as if it might have been worn as a pendant. Upon the face of it there is the representation of the entrance to a port flanked by round stone towers surmounted by statues. Arches border the jetty on either side of the towers, and two sailing vessels are about to enter the harbor. Two letters, KA, may well be the abbreviation for the word Caesarea. The other side of the coin shows the figure of a male with a long beard and a tail like a dolphin, with a mace-like object in his hand. Coin experts who have seen this piece agree that it is unique, and that it undoubtedly depicts the ancient port of Caesarea. It may have been issued to commemorate some important occasion at Caesarea in the first or second century A.D.
3. This object may be an amulet, the winged figure representing Horus, the Egyptian sun god who wards off lurking evils. Cf. E.A.W. Budge, Amulets and Superstitions (London, 1930) 166. A close examination of the original piece, however, leads one to conclude that it is a baling seal.
Raphael and Bijovsky (2014) examined "a large hoard of 3,700 copper coins found in the excavations of" what may have been a synagogue. They describe the discovery of the coin hoard as follows:
In 1962, during the excavations at Caesarea, Avi-Yonah unearthed a large hoard containing 3,700 copper-alloy coins, in a building that he identified as a synagogue. The latest coins in the hoard date to 361 CE, suggesting that the synagogue was destroyed by the 363 CE earthquake.The coins were found in Stratum IV. The original excavator (Avi-Yonah) "gave no reason for the destruction of Stratum IV." In discussing evidence for seismic destruction in Caesarea, Raphael and Bijovsky (2014) provide the following:
The finds from the excavation were only partially published. Much of the information, such as locus numbers, is not always clear and the exact location of the hoard is not marked on a plan or described by Avi-Yonah. Nevertheless, his written descriptions clearly state that the hoard was found in the building and the strata are fairly well defined. A photograph shows Avi-Yonah in the building during the excavation kneeling next to the in situ hoard (Fig. 1).
None of the excavations revealed large scale damage in Stratum IV: "there is no evidence of wholesale destruction across the site, especially since the wall lines are still mostly intact based upon photographic record. Yet not much remains of the structure either in stratum IV or stratum V" (Govaars et al. 2009:132). After the earthquake debris was cleared, the synagogue was rebuilt. Stones from the previous synagogue were reused for the building of the stratum V synagogue, but the hoard was not found until Avi-Yonah's excavations. Govaars wrote "the direct relationship of the coin hoard to a structure is uncertain and, therefore the coin evidence cannot be used to date the still unknown structure" (Govaars et al. 2009:42). This is a somewhat peculiar statement considering the coins were found in the synagogue and are on the whole well preserved, homogeneous and well dated. Avi-Yonah was convinced that the hoard was directly related to the Stratum IV building: "The fact that a hoard of 3,700 bronze coins was found in the ruins of the synagogue itself that were buried in 355/356 AD indicates that this synagogue was built in the end of the third or the early fourth century, and was destroyed in the mid fourth century AD" (Avi-Yonah 1964:26 n. 5).1,453 coins from the hoard of coins were identifiable by mints and dates. They ranged in age from 315 CE to the first quarter of the 5th century CE. 110 of these coins ranged in age from 364 - 421 CE and post dated 363 CE. The bulk of the hoard, however, were struck between 341 and 361 CE. The authors noted that 11 of the post 363 CE coins may have been intrusive. An explanation for the other 99 post 363 CE coins was based largely on a comparison to a similarly dated coin hoard in Qasrin. The authors opined that the many coins from Julian II shows that the coins could not have been concealed before 355 CE ruling out the Gallus Revolt (352 CE) as a cause for the loss of the hoard. On the whole, this numismatic evidence for the Cyril Quake striking Caesarea seems tenuous however since Caesarea was mentioned as being partly ruined in Cyril's letter, it merits inclusion in this catalog.
Evidence at Caesarea
The subject of earthquakes and tsunamis has been partially reviewed by several archaeologists who directed or participated in the excavations at Caesarea. None of the monumental buildings across the site revealed earthquake damage that dates to the fourth century CE.
The report of remains from the excavations of the Promontory Palace at Caesarea, dated between the early fourth century and early sixth centuries, does not mention destruction levels (Levine and Netzer 1986:176-184). In other excavations, the Roman and Byzantine-period warehouses and granaries (horreum) gradually fell into ruin over a considerable period. Neither the main streets, pavements, sewage and water systems, the theater, amphitheater nor the stadiums of the Late Roman and Byzantine periods show signs of destruction that suggested earthquake damage (Humphrey 1974:32; Porath 1996:114-120; Porath 2003 and Porath [pers. comm.]).
If the town was partially damaged or destroyed in the 363 CE earthquake, as the Harvard Syriac letter [i.e. the letter attributed to Cyril] describes, then other than the large coin hoard, the earthquake left no clear, tangible evidence. The damage was cleared and buildings were repaired or rebuilt. Although none of the archaeological reports mentions earthquake damage, several reports clearly describe the abandonment and/or the rebuilding of public buildings in the second half of the fourth century CE. None of the authors provided a reason for their destruction or abandonment.
Tectonic evidence such as collapsed columns, thick piles of debris or warped walls are elusive throughout the fourth century architecture of Caesarea. Why is this typical earthquake damage missing? Are the written sources and the numismatic evidence sufficient proof of the 363 CE earthquake in Caesarea? It is important to note that among the various violent, politically motivated upheavals that took place in the second half of the fourth century, one of the main candidates explaining destruction at archaeological sites is the Gallus Revolt (352 CE). However, none of the sources that describe this revolt mention Caesarea Maritima (Geller-Nathanson 1986:34)
Langgut et al (2015) report that destruction of a building in Caesarea Maritima was tentatively attributed to the 659 CE earthquake by Raban et al (1993:59-61).
At Caesarea, the best evidence of destruction attributable to the 749 earthquake comes from Area TPS, on the S side of the Temple Platform, where a thick layer of debris marks the end of the Umayyad occupation of the Late Byzantine bath complex, which was subsequently mulled and built over in the later 8th century - see Raban and Yankelevitz (2008:81) and Arnon (2008:85). Another probable effect of the earthquake was the collapse of the octagonal church on the platform - see Holum et al (2008:30-31).
lush terraced gardensirrigated by wells and cisterns ( Dey et al, 2014). Marine layers found on top of these gardens included Glycymeris, a non-edible deeper water bivalve. Atop the marine layer was, in some areas, a burial ground with a funerary inscription providing a terminus ante quem of 870 CE. A terminus post quem of c. 500 came from a
reflecting poolfronting the Temple platform and overlain by the marine layer. Dey et al (2014) suggest that the most likely explanation for the transformation from gardens to burial ground was an intervening episode of tsunamogenic destruction. They discussed the potential landward tsunamogenic deposit as follows:
The most substantial strata attributable to a marine inundation of mid-8th-c. date appeared in the SW sector, along the coastal strip south of the Crusader fortifications. Extensive tracts of these deposits between the temple platform and the theater, a shore-parallel distance of nearly 800 m, were uncovered (and removed, usually mechanically) in the 1970s and early 1980s under the auspices of the Joint Expedition (JECM). The bulk of the deposits lay in a shallow depression situated c.10 m above mean sea-level (MSL) and separated from the sea by a low ridge 15 m above MSL. From the landward side of the ridge, beginning c.50 m from the shore, these marine layers stretched inland as far as 300 m from the sea. 14 They comprised two distinct, superimposed sequences, each consisting of a thick, lower layer of densely-bedded (and in some cases imbricated) shells, rubble and sherds up to 1.5 m thick, topped by a dark, silty layer 20-40 cm thick. Datable materials in the second, upper sequence placed its formation around the 14th c. 15 In the lower sequence, dated by the excavators approximately to the 8th c. on the basis of finds, numerous disarticulated human remains turned up, as well as at least one complete skeleton in Area C, interbedded with the surrounding strata of shells and silt. 16 Like the rest of the materials, this corpse was probably deposited by a (cataclysmic) natural event. As D. Neev and K. Emery indicated in their report, there were no signs of a man-made grave, and the surrounding horizontal strata were uninterrupted above and below the skeleton; such 'culturally non-appropriate burials' are now recognized as a typical feature of tsunami deposits.17 The most likely scenario would have corpses deposited by the retreating waters of the tsunami and immediately covered with more detritus, keeping the articulated skeleton undisturbed by scavenging animals or human intervention.
which was in use from the Herodian period to the Umayyad period. A storage structure (aka "the warehouse") was identified in the western part of the site which appears to have been constructed in Herodian times and remained in use, as it underwent changes, until the middle of the Umayyad period (~700 CE). After the Islamic conquest of Caesarea (640 CE),
rooms were partitioned, floors were raised, construction was added and some of the openings were sealed.Ceramics indicate that the site was abandoned at the end of the 7th century CE after which it suffered two major destruction events before re-occupation occurred in the mid 8th century CE in what was interpreted as Abbasid Strata V (the Abbasid Caliphate began ruling in 750 CE). During the renewed Abbasid occupation, destruction debris were preserved
as the builders preferred to level the area and build above the destruction layer(s).The destruction events within Stratum VI (Umayyad) appear to be an earthquake and a tsunami; both likely a result of the the Holy Desert Quake of the Sabbatical Year Quake sequence.
several ceilings collapsed inward, and there was evidence of a fire in the eastern warehouse.1 In the collapse in the corridor, the
original order of the courses of the wall or vault could be clearly identified (Fig. 8)adding confidence to a seismic interpretation. During the subsequent tsunami event,
a layer of sand and collapsed building stones had accumulated to a height of more than 2 m in Rooms 8–11 in the western warehouse and to a height of 1.5 m in Rooms 12–14 and the corridor of the eastern warehouse.Everhardt et. al. (2023) further examined the destruction deposits by taking cores and radiocarbon samples as well as examining burn evidence and a baulk inside the collapsed corridor.
from the top 3 cm of sediment in the Umayyad archaeological fill and one untreated sample of various organic material (~20 mg) from the top 5 cm of the same layer in core C1, as close as possible to the contact with the lower anomalous deposit, were collected for radiocarbon dating.Everhardt et. al. (2023:14-15) report that
radiocarbon dates of charcoal and organic material from the upper contact of the Umayyad archaeological deposit (Unit C) range from 605 to 779 CE2 which is in agreement with the phasing of Ad et al (2018) and compatible with destruction layers that were deposited in 749 CE.
clean, loose quartz sand with no sedimentary structures or cultural artifacts.
same sediment as Unit A but with additions of several marine-encrusted potsherds and reddened, partially heat-fused sand clusters.
|earthquake and fire debris mixed with a tsunami deposit|
|C||'Umayyad archaeological fill'||
a dark gray/brown (10YR 6/2), organic-rich layer with many cultural artifacts, including potsherds, glass shards, shells, beach pebbles, charcoal, and bone fragments.
|Post abandonment deposition from the latter half of the Umayyad period -
typical of an ancient garbage dump
compact earthen floor
|Umayyad or earlier floor|
reddened, partially heat-fused sand clusterswere
in agreement with the presence of reddened in-situ building blocks along the intact eastern wall of the room (and elsewhere along the walls)which indicated that a fire took place before the tsunami struck. They also noted an
abundance of charcoal found in the upper Umayyad archaeological fill.They viewed the presence of marine-encrusted potsherds as an indicator that
these inclusions were previously submerged in the marine system long enough for the encrustation to take place, suggesting that they were transported from the sea to land at the time of the eventwhich in turn could
indicate that the tsunami water and deposits extinguishedthe fire.
1 Everhardt et. al. (2023:5) reports that fire-reddened walls (see inset of Figure 2C) were found at
the same level as the destruction layer(s).
2 Everhardt et. al. (2023:14-15) described the radiocarbon samples as follows:
A single piece of charcoal from the surface of the Umayyad archaeological fill (Unit C) in core C1 has been radiocarbon dated with 95.4% probability to 649–687 calCE (73.5%) or 743–773 calCE (22.0%), consistent with the archaeological finds. A second radiocarbon age was measured on a mix of small organic materials from the same layer as the previous charcoal sample, with a result of 605–665 cal CE (95.4% probability).
isolated reports describe single-column-fall damage or other structural failuresin Caesarea due to the Holy Desert Quake of the Sabbatical Year sequence.
Submergence of the outer harbor break-waters at the end of the first century A.D.
Submergence of the outer harbor break-waters at the end of the first century A.D. could have also been due to seismic liquefaction of the sediment.
Another probable effect of the earthquake was the collapse of the octagonal church on the platform
|Collapsed Vault or Wall||Area LL||VIII +|
‘Ad, U.; Kirzner, D., Shotten-Hallel, Vardit, and Gendelman, P., 2017, the Crusader Market. Preliminary Report; Hadashot Arkheologiyot
‘Ad, U.; Arbel, Y.; Gendelman, P. Caesarea, 2018, Area LL. 2018; Hadashot Arkheologiyot
Arnon, Y. D. 2008. Caesarea Maritima, the late periods (700-1291 CE) (BAR 51771; Oxford).
Dey, H., et al. (2014). "Archaeological evidence for the tsunami of January 18, A.D. 749: a chapter in the history of Early Islamic Qâysariyah (Caesarea Maritima)." Journal of Roman Archaeology 27: 357-373.
Everhardt, C. J., et al. (2023). "Earthquake, Fire, and Water: Destruction Sequence Identified in an 8th Century Early Islamic Harbor Warehouse in Caesarea, Israel." Geosciences 13(4): 108.
Fritsch, C. T. and I. Ben-Dor (1961). "The Link Expedition to Israel, 1960." The Biblical Archaeologist 24(2): 50-59.
Galili, E., et al. (2021). "Archaeological and Natural Indicators of Sea-Level and Coastal Changes: The Case Study of the Caesarea Roman Harbor." Geosciences (Switzerland) 11.
Mart and Perecman(1996). Caesarea: Unique Evidence for Faulting Patterns and Sea Level Fluctuations in the Late Holocene. Caesarea Maritima: A Retrospective after Two Milennia. Leiden, Brill: 3-24.
Raban, A. (1996). The inner harbor basin of Caesarea: archaeological evidence for its gradual demise
Raban, A. and S. Yankelevitz 2008. "A Byzantine/Early Islamic bath on the S flank of the Temple Plat-form, excavations 1995," in Holum, Stabler and Reinhardt 2008, 67-84.
Reinhardt, E. G., et al. (2006). "The tsunami of 13 December A.D. 115 and the destruction of Herod the Great's harbor at Caesarea Maritima, Israel." Geology 34(12): 1061-1064.
Reinhardt, E. G. and A. Raban (1999). "Destruction of Herod the Great's harbor at Caesarea Maritima, Israel—Geoarchaeological evidence." Geology 27(9): 811-814.
Stabler, J, and K. Holum 2008. "The warehouse quarter (area LL) and the Temple Platform (area TP), 1996-2000 and 2002 seasons," in Holum, Stabler and Reinhardt 2008, 1-39.
Toombs (1978). The Stratigraphy of Caesarea Maritima. Archaeology in the Levant: Essays for Kathleen Kenyon. R. M. a. P. Parr. Warminster. England, Aris and Phillips: 233-232.
Levine L.I. and Netzer E. 1986. Excavations at Caesarea Maritima 1975, 1976, 1979—Final Report (Qedem 21). Jerusalem.
Raban, A. and O. British Archaeological Reports (1989). "The Harbours of Caesarea Maritima. Results of the Caesarea Ancient Harbour Excavation Project, 1980-1985. Volume I: The Site and the Excavations." BAR International series 491.
Raban A, Holum KG, Blakely JA. 1993. The combined Caesarea expeditions: field reports of the 1992 season. Haifa: University of Haifa.
Holum, K. G., J. A. Stabler and E. G. Reinhardt (edd.) 2008. Caesarea reports and studies: excavations 1995-2007 within the Old City mid the ancient harbor (BAR 51784; Oxford).
Stabler J. and Holum K.G. 2008. The Warehouse Quarter (Area LL) and the Temple Platform (Area TP), 1996–2000 and 2002 Seasons. In K.G. Holum, J.A. Stabler and E.G. Reinhardt eds. Caesarea Reports and Studies: Excavations 1995-2007 within the Old City and the Ancient Harbor (BAR Int. S. 1784). Oxford. Pp. 1–39.
Caesarea-Maritima.org - Comprehensive Bibliography
Papers on Caesarea at zotero.org
Caesarea at biblewalks.com
Caesarea Maritima, 80 km south of Tyre and on the coast, suffered severe damage in AD 614 and 640 according to stratigraphic and historical evidence (Russell 1985, 23). Russell argues that the destruction is too severe to be the result of a Persian invasion, as [Toombs (1978)] has said, so it must be due to the AD 551 and 632/3 earthquakes. It is certainly geographically possible, he adds, that Caesarea suffered in this event, being only about 100 km south of Tyre and the same distance (as Tyre) from the Dead Sea fault.
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