Caesarea Maritima: the temple to Augustus



The Jewish historian Josephus (37 – c 100 A.D.), in a brief summary of some of Herod the Great’s building projects across Palestine, noted in regard to Caesarea Maritima:

“At Caesarea he constructed a major port along a shore where there was none, enclosing a harbor larger than the Piraeus [the largest seaport in Greece]. Then he erected a whole city of white stone crowned with a temple to Rome and Augustus – all within a twelve-year period.” (p.246)

In another place, Josephus tells us the temple’s statute of the emperor Augustus was “not inferior to the Olympian Zeus.” (Jewish Wars I.21.7).

We know exactly where this remarkable temple once stood: on the highest and most prominent part of Caesarea Maritima, overlooking the harbor and only 100-300 yards from the coastline of that time. However, the intervening two millennium since its construction has not been kind to this temple for virtually all of it has either deteriorated, been carried away, been re-purposed, or remains yet to be excavated. However, what little of the temple’s remains that have been identified has enabled scholars to surmise what the temple looked like originally.

The photograph above is a close-up shot of a historical marker located on the temple’s foundation that presents scholarship’s proposal of the temple’s appearance.