Tag Archives: Archaeology

The Aqueduct at Caesarea

Caesarea Maritima, on the Mediterranean coast in northern Israel, is a truly beautiful place to visit.  In this newsletter I wanted to share with you some photos of an aqueduct that brought freshwater to the city.  The original aqueduct was built by Herod the Great.  Emperor Hadrian expanded the project in the second-century A.D.

Aqueduct 1

In this first picture, you can see the Roman arches that support the aqueduct.  The arch was widely used by the Romans as a way of supporting large structures.  Herod, who had the original aqueduct built, is known as “the great” because of his many building projects.  Many of his projects reflect a Roman influence.  Looking through the arches you can see the Mediterranean Sea.

Aqueduct 2

In this picture, you can see the aqueduct extending northward.  This particular aqueduct is more than six miles in length.  The aqueduct was fed from a source at Mount Carmel.  While large lengths of the aqueduct were built on arches as seen in this picture, part of the newer aqueduct included a tunnel.

Aqueduct 3

This picture was taken on the Mediterranean side of the aqueduct.  This picture showcases the remarkable stonework in the aqueduct.

At the time of Paul’s visit to Caesarea, there was only one aqueduct bringing water to the city.  In the second-century A.D. a second aqueduct was built that entered the city alongside the first.  The original aqueduct is on the left and partially missing in this picture.  The newer aqueduct was on the right.

Aqueduct 4

This final photo was taken at the end of the aqueduct where we visited.  At the top of the structure you can see a channel.  This is where the water flowed.  In this image you can also get a good look at the bricks and stones used in making the aqueduct.

Aqueducts were of great importance in the ancient world as they supplied great quantities of fresh water to thriving cities and settlements.  For the people of the New Testament era these were a common site.

 

If you are wondering if Caesarea Maritima is important for New Testament studies, the answer is “yes.”  This is a city where Paul was imprisoned for a period of time and also where he appealed to Caesar (Acts 23:23ff; 25:11).  Also, this is the city where the centurion Cornelius lived (Acts 10).

 

The Old Testament City of Lachish

Lachish.jpg

It may not look like much from this picture (notice the size of the hill compared to the trash can in the front of the picture), but at one time the fortified city on the hill was one of the three most important citites in Judah.  The city is located to the southwest of Jerusalem and overlooks a large area known as the Shephelah.  Here are a few fast facts about Lachish:

  • Prior to the conquest of the Israelites, Lachish was occupied by Amorites (Josh 10:5).
  • Lachish was conquered by the Israelites under the leadership of Joshua (Josh 10:31–32).
  • Lachish was rebuilt by King Rehoboam of Judah so that it would function as a defensive city (2 Chron 11:9; see also Jer 34:7)
  • King Amaziah of Judah fled from a palace coup in Jerusalem to Lachish.  However, those who sought him killed him at Lachish (2 Kgs 14:9; 2 Chron 25:27)
  • King Sennacherib of Assyria laid siege to, and conquered, Lachish in 701 BC (2 Chron 32:9).  King Sennacherib had his victory over Lachish memorialized in a series of stone reliefs at his palace in Nineveh.
  • King Sennacherib encamped at Lachish while he laid siege to Jerusalem (2 Kgs 18:14, 17; Isa 36:2)
  • King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon laid siege to Lachish (Jer 34:7) – he would eventually conquer the city of Lachish
  • The Israelites reoccupied Lachish during the time of Nehemiah (Neh 11:30)

 

The Temple at the Time of Christ

Ancient Jerusalem.jpg

The picture you see above is of a model of the Temple Mount and part of the city of Jerusalem during the time of Jesus.  The model is found at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem.  On the upper right hand corner of the Temple Mount there is a another structure that has large towers in its four corners.  That is the Antonia Fortress.  It was built by Herod the Great and named for Mark Antony.  The covered area on the left hand side of the Temple Mount is the “Royal Portico.”  You will also notice that there are covered walkways along the inside of the wall that are lined with columns.  The covered walkway that is closest to you in this picture (you cannot see its columns) is Solomon’s Portico, also called Solomon’s Porch (see John 10:23).   The pinnacle of the temple is believed to be the top of the wall in the southeast corner (see Matthew 4:5; Luke 4:9).  As you view this picture you are viewing west (from where the Mount of Olives is, albeit you would not be this elevated).  So, as you follow along the top of the wall the pinnacle would be the platform area in the lower left hand corner.  The Large structure in the middle of the complex is the temple as it may have looked following its restoration by Herod the Great (see John 2:20).  The structure in the the middle of the Temple Mount is the temple complex.  Between the temple complex and the porticos was a small wall that you do not see in this picture.  This wall was called the Soreg and it separated the outer Court of the Gentiles from the areas that were considered sacred.  As you look at the front of the temple complex you will notice a small entryway in the wall.  If you were to walk through this entryway you would enter the Court of the Women.  If you continued walking straight ahead and up the set of stairs you would come to the Great Gate.  Once you went through the Great Gate you were in the Court of Israel.  The tall building is the temple proper, which is where the Holy Place and the Holy of Holies were located.   Between the Court of Israel and the temple is the Court of the Priests.  Between the Great Gate and the temple, and within the Court of the Priests, was the altar.  If you could see the temple from directly above it would look the letter “T” with the top part ofo the letter being the front of the building.  This front part of the temple was the Porch.  Once you passed the porch you would be in the Holy Place and if you continued walking you would go through a large curtain and enter the Most Holy Place (the Holy of Holies).

Temple Details.jpg