October 31, 2011

Chapter 39876...

In the book, The NeverEnding Story - Israel Edition.

We are nearing the end though...it's the last day of the trip. We are headed to Mediterranean and then to the airport. Sigh.

On a happier note. I LOVED Caesarea Maritima. It was amazing. It was a city and harbor built by Herod the Great about 25–13 BC. Like everything else in that place, it had been taken over, razed and rebuilt many times.

A serious archaeological excavation began in the 1950s and 1960s and they uncovered remains from many periods, in particular, a complex of Crusader fortifications
Crusader hall. The Crusades were horrific...but they were quite the architects. Beautiful.
Crusader carving
and a theatre. There is a temple dedicated to Caesar, a hippodrome and a double aqueduct that brought water from Mount Carmel. You should read more, if you are interested. Fascinating site.

And the best part??? They aren't as strict about touching. You can walk all over the ancient village
The ancient village
and touch the old mosaic floors and walls and pick up shards of pottery sticking out of the floor. 
I loved it. Did I already say that? Too bad. I'll say it again. Love. 
Being able to get a really close look at stuff was great...and I loved walking the streets and into the rooms where people lived 2000 years ago.
Oh and Herod really did earn his name "The Great", which was given to him because of his building, NOT because he was great. He was a douche. But man could he built stuff. 

There were no natural harbors along this coast...so he built one. He (his slaves) sunk huge boxes filled with a type of concrete in the water and literally built a harbor on them.The dark spots in the water are the remains of the artificial harbor.
 This is the hippodrome:
It is in the shape of a long  "U", with 10,000 seats in 12 rows. They held horse races, special events, and games. I'm guessing a lot of blood was shed here.

These are the remains of Herod's pool which he built on a promontory. The pool in the center was nearly Olympic in size, and was filled with fresh water.  A statue once stood in the center. You can see the remains of beautiful mosaic floors and baths. The man lived in absolute luxury.
They restored Herod's theater and use it for concerts and performances. It sat 3500 and is super steep. And I can't imagine sitting on those stones for hours...
But what a view... 
They had some very cool artifacts scattered about. A coffin...
 and statuary...
 We headed down the coast just a bit to the aqueducts and got to get in the ocean!
Well, I did anyway. I don't think anyone else did. I just can't help it. I see an ocean, I get in. Especially the Mediterranean. Who knows the next time I will be in it? 

I don't generally like people taking my picture but Dixie snuck this one and it's proof that I stepped in the Mediterranean, so I'm keeping it :-)

The aquaducts were pretty cool too. Once again, something that has managed to last for 2000 years. There was no fresh water nearby so they built a 10 mile long aqueduct to bring water from springs at the base of Mt. Carmel.  To get the water to flow by the pull of gravity, the aqueduct was built on arches and the gradient was carefully measured. Amazing engineering. 

This is broken off end.
 Looking at the ocean side.
 This woman...is a complete stranger. She is Israeli and lives nearby. She and her two kids were playing at the beach and suddenly a bunch of crazy American tourists showed up and asked to take pics of her...
The kids were so gorgeous though! She was super sweet about it, as you can see by her smile. 

Lovely place, lovely people, lovely time. I miss it.

1 comment:

karla said...

I so hope these memories "will not"
last you a lifetime - we shall have to go again...together!