Caesarea Maritima: the high-level aqueduct


Herod the Great constructed a high-level aqueduct to sustain the growth of the population of Caesarea Maritima. The source for the aqueduct’s water was Mount Carmel, located seven miles away to the north-northeast. However, this aqueduct was about much more than the delivery of water to a thirsty city.

On the surface, it would appear that the purpose of aqueducts like the one pictured above near Caesarea was to simply bring a steady stream of fresh water to the city. But the construction of such aqueducts served additional purposes, not the least of which would be the constant, graphic display of Rome’s apparent power over the very products of the heavens and time. Marianne Sawicki explains:

… when Herodian engineers built the massive aqueduct systems to support cities like Caesarea … they accomplished something more than civic improvements. They secularized the water. It no longer came from heaven; it came from Rome. “From Rome” means that Roman engineering brought it into homes and courtyards from far-off mountain springs, conveniently, automatically, without regard to the natural vicissitudes of the weather or the seasons, and without any apparent assistance from divine providence. … Aqueducts as such were by no means a Roman innovation in … Galilee. … But, unlike … earlier installations, the Herodian- and Roman-era aqueducts were monumentally built and called attention to themselves by their size and design. They matched the civic architecture of theaters, colonnaded avenues, temples, and so forth that constituted the “urban overlay” of the Greco-Roman cities in Galilee.

While I could share quite a few more pictures of sites I was privileged to see in Caesarea Maritima this spring, most of them would be of matters dating from the time of the Crusades. So, we’ll leave Caesarea now, having focused primarily on matters pertaining to the first century A.D.

Where do you guess we might be in our photo tour of Israel when posting resumes here on Sat., Sept. 28? Come and see!