Archaeology Magazine Archive

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Herod's Temple Base Found Volume 49 Number 1, January/February 1996
by Eric Adams

Foundation stones of Herod the Great's enormous temple in Caesarea, Israel, built 2,000 years ago as a display of his loyalty to Augustus, were recently uncovered by archaeologists from the University of Maryland and Israel's Haifa University. Standing atop a prominent hill facing Caesarea harbor, the remains may reveal more about the city's transformation from paganism to Christianity. Earlier excavations of an octagonal church built on the site around A.D. 525 revealed that some of the temple's stones had been recycled in its construction.

"We guessed that the center line of the temple would be the same as the center line of the church," said Kenneth Holum, the University of Maryland historian leading the excavation. Using fragments of the superstructure, including column bases and Corinthian capitals, and the dimensions of the massive foundation stones, Holum calculated that the temple must have measured about 90 by 160 feet at its base and been 90 feet high, making it one of the region's largest. It contained statues of Augustus and the goddess Roma, according to Flavius Josephus.

Herod's Temple

Photograph: Aaron Levin

© 1996 by the Archaeological Institute of America