King Herod the Great and his palatial complex at Caesarea Maritima
The writer of this thesis aspires to demonstrate by pertinent examples that the site of the promontory at Caesarea, Israel, known in ancient times as Caesarea Maritima, was one of King Herod’s palaces, one of several structures within this palatial complex, and that this complex was the jewel of his many building projects. Several scholars have identified the promontory as being the site of Herod’s palace. Others have argued that the site, which includes the foundation of a large building structure and a large, rectangular, rock-cut pool, may simply have been a piscine, a commercial fish pool. Little remains of its floors and some portions of its walls exist, and therefore, as excavations continue at the site by several archaeological teams, the question as to its true identity continues to be a controversial subject. The promontory extends into the Mediterranean Sea, directly west of a Roman-style theater that has been dated to the latter part of the first century Before the Common Era (B.C.E.), and just south of a hippodrome that was discovered in 1992. It, too, appears to date from the same period. This setting is a likely one for Herod’s complex, as this writer intends to show, because it is reminiscent of his other palatial complexes. The writer of this thesis will illustrate, by examples, that Herod’s predecessors, the Hasmoneans, utilized Hellenistic architectural motifs in their palace structures at Jericho, at Masada, and in Jerusalem. Furthermore, the writer will explicate and show that Herod employed these structures as starting points, improved and enlarged upon them by utilizing Roman motifs and methods of construction, and added to them his own personal genius. Evidence of this can be seen today in his remodeled palatial complexes at Jericho, at Masada, and at Jerusalem. Herodium is his own creation. And therefore, by association, it may be suggested that he did the same at Caesarea—building by the sea, on a promontory surrounded on three sides by water, possibly on two tiers. Herod incorporated other large public structures into the complex and embellished them all in a lavish Herodian manner. Herod the Great created for himself, at Caesarea, one of his most enterprising accomplishments—a palace befitting a king of his stature, and one by which he would be remembered.