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Storms prompt fears Caesarea's ancient port may collapse

Following the collapse of the Caesarea breakwater, the waves pounding Israel's shores are reaching the ancient port of Caesarea, prompting fears it may collapse too in one of the worst storms in this region for years.
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A unique archaeological exhibition has opened in Caesarea harbour: for the first time the general public can see an extraordinary 1,700 year old sarcophagus cover that is one of the most impressive ever discovered in Caesarea.
The cover, which weighs more than 4 tons, is decorated with snake-haired medusa heads and joyful and sad-faced masks. These were taken from the world of the ancient theatre where two kinds of plays were customarily presented: comedy and tragedy. The meaning of the Greek word medusa is "guard or sentry"; whoever looked directly at the mythological medusa would be turned to stone immediately. In antiquity they used to produce medusa reliefs on, among other things, tombs and various shields, in the hope that this would ward off the threat.

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Tsunami waves reasonably likely to strike Israel

"There is a likely chance of tsunami waves reaching the shores of Israel. Tsunami events in the Mediterranean do occur less frequently than in the Pacific Ocean, but our findings reveal a moderate rate of recurrence" - Dr. Beverly Goodman of the Leon H. Charney School of Marine Sciences at the University of Haifa following an encompassing geo-archaeological study at the port of Caesarea.


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New geo-archaeological research at the Leon H. Charney School of Marine Sciences at the University of Haifa has exposed evidence of four tsunami events on the coast of Caesarea, between Tel Aviv and Haifa.

"We expected to find the remains of ships, but were surprised to reveal unusual geological layers the likes of which we had never seen in the region before" - Dr. Beverly Goodman

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Herodium
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An Israeli archaeologist said this week that he had unearthed what he believed were the 2,000-year-old remains of two tombs that had held a wife and daughter-in-law of the biblical King Herod.

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TSUNAMIS IN CAESAREA
In April 2007, the second expedition to collect sediment cores from the areas outside of Caesarea's ancient harbour was initiated by Prof. Yossi Mart and his postdoctoral researcher geoarchaeologist Dr. Beverly Goodman. The project's goals were first to collect a series of shore-parallel (-15.0 meter contour) and shore-perpendicular sediment cores as a means to reconstruct the lateral extend of the tsunamigenic horizons originally discovered in 2001 (Reinhardt et al. 2006).
The second goal was to reopen and extensively sample the original deposit (area W), to better record its stratigraphy, and to collect more sample material for continued analysis, as the previous sampling supply was exhausted.
Prior to the initiation of the project, micropaleontological and sedimentological analysis on two pilot cores collected in 2005 was completed (Goodman et al., forthcoming). The results from that study were promising, as the tsunamigenic horizons were correlated to a depth of -20 meters, and inspired the continuation of the coring study. The expedition was generously supported by the Department of Infrastructure, RIMS, Hatter, EcoOcean and an anonymous donor.

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From the shoreline of Caesarea on Israel's north coast, it's just a few fin kicks and a short descent below the sun-glazed surface of the Mediterranean until you reach the sunken ruins of the harbour that made this one of the great cities of antiquity.

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Herod the Great
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After 2,000 years of indignity and ignominy, Herod the Great has finally gotten his revenge.
During their revolt against Roman rule over Judea between 66 and 72 A.D., Jews who remembered King Herod as a Roman puppet smashed his sarcophagus, which had been interred with royal pomp about 70 years before. Christians have identified him as a baby killer who forced Jesus' family to flee Bethlehem. And Herod's habit of having his rivals and relatives killed has hardly burnished his image.
True, he built monumental projects - not only Masada and Caesarea but also the grand expansion of the second Jewish temple in Jerusalem, the best-known remnant of which is the Western Wall. In the main, though, he has been a forgotten and derided historical figure.

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King Herod
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An Israeli archaeologist on Tuesday said he has found the tomb of King Herod, the legendary builder of ancient Jerusalem and the Holy Land.
Hebrew University archaeologist Ehud Netzer said the tomb was found at Herodium, a flattened hilltop in the Judean Desert where Herod built a palace compound. Netzer has been working at the site since the 1970s.
Netzer said the tomb was discovered when a team of researchers found pieces of a limestone sarcophagus believed to belong to the ancient king. Although there were no bones in the container, he said the sarcophagus' location and ornate appearance indicated it is Herod's.

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Caesarea Maritima
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Title: The tsunami of 13 December A.D. 115 and the destruction of Herod the Great's harbour at Caesarea Maritima, Israel
Authors: Eduard G. Reinhardt, Beverly N. Goodman, Joe I. Boyce, Gloria Lopez, Peter van Hengstum, W. Jack Rink, Yossi Mart, Avner Raban.

Underwater geoarchaeological excavations on the shallow shelf (~10 m depth) at Caesarea, Israel, have documented a tsunami that struck and damaged the ancient harbour at Caesarea. Talmudic sources record a tsunami that struck on 13 December A.D. 115, impacting Caesarea and Yavne. The tsunami was probably triggered by an earthquake that destroyed Antioch, and was generated somewhere on the Cyprian Arc fault system. The tsunami deposit consisted of an ~0.5-m-thick bed of reverse-graded shells, coarse sand, pebbles, and pottery deposited over a large area outside of the harbour. The lower portion of the deposit was composed of angular shell fragments, and the upper portion of whole convex-up Glycymeris spp. shells. The sequence records tsunami downcutting (~1 m) into shelf sands, with the return flow sorting and depositing angular shell fragments followed by oriented whole shells. Radiocarbon dating of articulated Glycymeris shells, and optically stimulated luminescence (OSL) dates, constrain the age of the deposit to between the first century B.C. and the second century A.D., and point to the tsunami of A.D. 115 as the most likely candidate for the event, and the probable cause of the harbour destruction.

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Caesarea Maritima
Latitude: 32 30' 8" N Longitude: 34 53' 28" E

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