In 90 BCE, Alexander Jannaeus captured Straton's Tower as part of his policy of developing the shipbuilding industry and enlarging the Hasmonean kingdom. Straton's Tower remained a Jewish city for two generations, until the area became dominated by the Roman in 63 BCE, when the Romans declared it an autonomous city. The pagan city underwent vast changes under Herod the Great, who renamed it Caesarea in honor of the Roman emperor, Caesar Augustus.
The town was built by Herod the Great about 25–13 BCE as the port city Caesarea Maritima. In 22 BCE, Herod began construction of a deep sea harbor and built storerooms, markets, wide roads, baths, temples to Rome and Augustus, and imposing public buildings. Every five years the city hosted major sports competitions, gladiator games, and theatrical productions in its theatre overlooking the Mediterranean Sea.
Caesarea also flourished during the Byzantine period. In the 3rd century, Jewish sages exempted the city from Jewish law, or Halakha, as by this time the majority of the inhabitants were non-Jewish. The city was chiefly a commercial centre relying on trade.
Click a photo to see it enlarged.
Mouse over the upper left-hand corner of the enlarged photo for a drop-down menu of options.