Sunday, March 26, 2017

Our day began before the sun was much awake.  Today we were leaving Tel Aviv and traveling to our next stop at the Sea of Galilee.

On the way, stops included Caesarea, Mt. Carmel and the catecombs at Bet Shearim.


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Views from the bus window:
In spite of some reflections from the window, you can see most of the Neeman Towers below.  It was designed by Yaacov Agam, an Israeli sculptor, but somehow, it looks like it was designed by Disney.
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Or maybe by Dr. Seuss?  I did a Google search to find the names and history of these and came up with a bunch of really really amazing architecture in Tel Aviv which you can see here if you want.  I could not find the name of the one at left or the one below on the left with the pie-shaped balconies.   The one on the right below is called The Crazy House, built in 1985 by Leon Gaignebet, a French architect born in Syria. On this side the balconies are supposed to resemble waves and on the back (unseen here) side the building is beige and full of plants and sand sculptures.
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More views caught from the bus window.  Still trying to find out who that man is on top of the water storage tank below.



Caeserea’s National Park: The Roman Theater


Excavation is still ongoing.  This is a big big place – don’t forget that over 100,000 people  used to live here, not counting Herod and his Palace occupants and visitors.
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The remains of the harbor, after over 2,000 years, and earthquake damage.  You can see the hippodromeseating on the right, and practically on the beach is the actual racetrack used for chariot racing.  Herod was a builder with great ambition — he made Caesarea the “Rome away from Rome.”

Another view of the harbor

And another view of the harbor … oh, and of me, too.

In back of Tom are some of the remains of Herod’s palace and Herod’s fresh-water swimming pool.

Here we are on the side of the Amphitheater  where you can see people sitting on the seats. The picture on the right, showing a column, is the same area but from farter out.
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Our group getting a history lesson from our guide, and Tom finds a convenient seat at the base of yet another column.

caesariadsc_8271Here is one of the sarcophagi (plural of sarcophagus).  The stone coffin was made from two large blocks with a cavity inside in which the body was placed.  They were made of granite, marble, limestone, lead, or wood, and were decorated with floral or geometric shapes.  The identity of the occupant was inscribed in the top.   Most of the coffins at Caeseria were part of the Roman-Byzantine Cemetery where excavations are still in progress.

caesariaimg_20170326_101835This hole, called the Roman Well, is reputed to be where John the Baptist was kept by King Herod until his (Herod’s) daughter got him (John) beheaded.

About 60 lead scroll fragments from the 4th Century AD were found in the well.  They were spells or curses that were thrown into the well for magical purposes.

The seats below are part of the Hippodrome (which you saw as part of a larger picture above) where chariot racing was held (think of the movie “Ben Hur”).  They were built to accommodate 13,000 spectators.  The western side of the Hippodrome with its seats apparently fell into the sea during an earthqueake in the 2nd century AD.

Below is the Amphitheater built by Herod.  It is still used today.

Today’s public restrooms are modern, of course, but one may wonder how such services were handled 2,000 years ago.  Here are some remains of the ancient toilet facilities.  Apparently, there were seats between the squares of rock and the waste was washed downstream into (presumably) the sea.  Sounds like a workable idea if privacy is not an issue.

As the population of the old city and port of Caesarea grew to several hundred thousand people — and not forgetting how much water it would take to keep Herod’s giant swimming pool filled — the underground wells became insufficient, and a large aqueduct was required to bring water from a distance.  The first Roman Aqueduct, built by King Herod, brought water from the Springs of Shummi, located 6 miles away.

Even here, however, an independent merchandise seller waited, hoping for business from us tourists.

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