Republication from Following hadrian
Caesarea Maritima is perhaps one of Israel’s most famous attractions. Its ruins are located by the sea-shore of Israel about half way between Tel Aviv and Haifa. It is the site of one of the most important cities of the Roman World, the capital of the province of Judaea. The city was founded between 22 and 10 BC by Herod the Great (37-4 BC) as an urban centre and harbor on the site of the earlier Straton’s Tower. The city has been populated through the late Roman and Byzantine era. Today, Caesarea is a large and beautiful national park and a fascinating place to visit while exploring the Holy Land.
Herod the Great’s palace and circus, Caesarea
© Carole Raddato
The Judaean port of Caesarea had no reliable source of fresh water when construction on the city began around 22 BC. King Herod commissioned a raised aqueduct to deliver water from the springs near Shuni, 16 kilometers north-east of Caesarea Maritima. Today, the most impressive part of the Herodian aqueduct (known as the high-level aqueduct I) can be seen on the beach of Caesarea, north of the ancient city.
When Hadrian visited Caesarea in 130 AD on his grand tour of the eastern part of the Roman Empire, the growth of the city required additional water. Hadrian then commissioned extensive repairs and a new aqueduct to be built. This new section (known as the high-level aqueduct II) was added to the right of the first canal and doubled its capacity. These twin parallel aqueducts continued to supply water for 1200 years.
Hadrian’s improvement on the work of Herod can be seen on the beach portion of the high-level aqueduct. The following photo shows the southern end of the aqueduct where the two stages of construction are clearly visible. The east channel of the aqueduct (right) was constructed by Herod the Great while the west channel (left) was built during the days of Hadrian.
A portion of the high level aqueduct of Caesarea showing the two stages of construction, Caesarea Maritima
© Carole Raddato
Several inscriptions have been discovered and indicate that a number of legions, or rather vexillationes (a detachment of the Legion) from these legions, took part in the building task. These inscriptions make mention of three Roman legions active in repairing the high-level aqueduct during Hadrian’s reign: five inscriptions refer to Legio X Fretensis, two to Legio VI Ferrata, one to Legio XXII Deiotariana, and another one to Legio II Traiana Fortis.
The one attached to the aqueduct close to Beit Hanania, located about 2.8 miles north of Ceasarea, mentions the Tenth Legion (Legio X Fretensis) and comprises, on the left, of the legionary insignia (the legion’s emblem) and on the right, of a tabula ansata (table with dovetail handles) with the text “IMP CAES(ar) TRIAN HADR(ianus).”