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Caesarea (2) in Palestine

Caesarea (2) in Palestine, under its original name of Strato's Tower (after a king of Sidon), was captured by the Hasmonean king Alexander Jannaeus in 103 bce, attached to the province of Syria by Pompey in 63, and given to Herod (1) by Octavian in 30. Between c.22 and 10 bce, Herod rebuilt the city on a lavish scale, renaming it after the emperor, and constructing a huge artificial harbour, now exposed through underwater archaeology. Tensions over the control of the constitution between the large Jewish minority and the Graeco-Syrian majority led to riots, and delegations were sent to Nero. His decision against the Jews was followed by the desecration of a synagogue. The ensuing massacre of 20,000 Jews, allegedly in a single day, sparked off the first Jewish revolt against Rome in 66 ce. The city was the administrative capital of Judaea under the procurators and again after 70, with a vigorous commercial life and a Roman lifestyle. Vespasian made it a Roman colony, and Severus Alexander a mētropolis. In the 3rd and 4th cents., it was a cosmopolitan cultural centre, home to well-known rabbis, to the great Christian library of Origen (1), and, after him, to Eusebius.


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