Caesarea/Harbor Chronology

Harbor Chronology

Dr. Avner Raban
Center for Maritime Studies
University of Haifa, Israel

350-260 BCE: "Straton's Tower" a coastal city of Phoenician type, equipped with an ample harbor. The city was named after either the Sidonian king Abdashtart or an unknown Hellenistic commander of Ptolemy II Philadelpus.

258 BCE: an Egyptian official from Ptolemy II lands at the port of Straton's tower. His mission was to collect taxes from Palestine.

c.130-100 BCE: a local Seleucid governor, named Zoilus, creates his own tyrannate, or petty kingdom, with Straton's Tower as its capital. The town is fortified, and withstands a siege by the Seleucids and Hasmonean king Alexander Jannaeus.

c.100 BCE: Ptolemy Lathyrus helps Jannaeus add Straton's Tower to his Judean kingdom.

63 BCE: Pompey visits Palestine. He diverts coastal pagan cities from the Judean kingdom, including Straton's Tower.

c.30 BCE: Strabo describes Straton's Tower as a small coastal settlement with an anchorage.

21-10 BCE: King Herod the Great builds the harbour of Sebastos and the adjoining city of Caesarea.

15 BCE: Herod hosts a visit from Marcus Agrippa and shows off his new harbour.

10 BCE: Herod inaugurates Sebastos and Caesarea, giving the harbor to the "Mariners" and the city "to its peoples."

4 BCE: Herod dies, and is succeeded by his son, Archelaus.

6 CE: The Romans depose Archelaus. Judea is then ruled as a Roman province with Caesarea as its capital.

43 CE: St. Paul the Apostle sails from Sebastos to Tarsus and later (58-60 CE) is imprisoned at Caesarea.

66 CE: Severe disputes occur between the gentile majority in Caesarea and its Jewish population, over the matter of citizenship. This triggers the outbreak of the Great Jewish revolt.

70 CE: Using Caesarea as their headquarters, the Romans crush the revolt, and Caesarea is re-founded as a Roman colony. This includes both the city and the harbor.

c.200 CE: St. Peter sails from Caesarea to Italy.

253 CE: The largest coins minted in Caesarea still depict Tyche, the city goddess, followed by a genius holding an anchor - symbolizing the harbour.

c.500 CE: Anastasius I renovates the harbour of Caesarea.

614-628 CE: The Sassanians of Iran capture Caesarea and govern it for 15 years. Maritime activity is documented.

640 CE: The Arabs conquer Caesarea after 7 years of intermittent siege.

844 CE: Ibn Khurdadhbih lists Caesarea as one of the ports of Palestine.

897-985 CE: Al Ya'qubi, al-Muqadisi, and other Arab geographers mention and describe Caesarea as a flourishing, fortified coastal city.

1047 CE: The Persian traveller Nasir-i-Khusrau visits "Caesarea-by-the Sea."

11/5/1101 CE: Franks and Genoese capture Caesarea, slaughter most of the residents, and sack the city.

1166 CE: Al Idrisi describes Caesarea as a large and well fortified city with a small harbour that is capable of holding but one boat.

1177 CE: The byzantine John Phocas describes the "truly wonderful harbour of Caesarea which was made by human skill."

15/7/1187 CE: Caesarea is easily taken and sacked by two of Saladin's officers.

Dec. 1217 CE: After 30 years of desolation, Caesarea is rebuilt by Hospitallers.

1225 CE: The geographer Yaqut describes Caesarea as being a mere village.

1228-1251 CE: Caesarea is rebuilt and fortified by the Germans and the Franks (St. Louis).

27/2/1265 CE: The thorough ruining and deliberate filling in of the harbour is carried out by the Sultan al-Ashraf Khalil in 1291.

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