“Spectacular” ancient shipwreck discovered at Caesarea’s harbor

A shipwreck with bronze statues, thousands of coins, and other finds has been discovered at ancient Caesarea Maritima, the same harbor used by the Apostle Paul. The Israel Antiquities Authority calls this the largest underwater discovery in 30 years. The wreck dates to the late Roman period and appears to have been a ship that had just left the safety of the harbor.

The coins bear the images of Constantine, the Roman emperor who legalized Christianity in early 4th century AD, and Licinius, a rival and co-emperor whom Constantine eventually defeated in battle. These coins from the shipwreck number in the thousands.

The shipwreck itself tells a story:

A large merchant ship was carrying a cargo of metal slated [for] recycling, which apparently encountered a storm at the entrance to the harbor and drifted until it smashed into the seawall and the rocks. A preliminary study of the iron anchors suggests there was an attempt to stop the drifting vessel before it reached shore by casting anchors into the sea; however, these broke – evidence of the power of the waves and the wind which the ship was caught up in.”

You can download the official press release with further details of this discovery. The Israel Antiquities Authority has provided a number of photos, most of which are shown below.

1

Rare bronze artifacts discovered in the shipwreck. (Credit: Clara Amit, courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority)

צילום-מועדון צלילה קיסריה העתיקה.2

The divers who discovered the shipwreck and its treasures by the ancient Caesarea harbor: Ran Feinstein (right) and Ofer Ra’anan. (Photo credit: The Old Caesarea Diving Center)

3

Bronze figurine of the moon goddess Luna. (Photo credit: Clara Amit, courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority)

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The Luna figurine as discovered on the seabed. (Photo credit: Ran Feinstein)

4

Bronze lamp with image of the sun god, Sol. (Photo credit: Clara Amit, courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority)

6

Lamp with image of the head of an African slave. (Photo credit: Clara Amit, courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority)

7

Figurine of Dionysius, the god of wine. (Courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority)

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Ship anchor as discovered on the seabed. (Photo credit: the Marine Archaeology Unit of the Israel Antiquities Authority)

9

Lumps of late Roman coins discovered in the shipwreck. The lumps retain the shape of their original containers. These coins weigh nearly 45 lbs./c. 20 kilos. (Photo credit: Clara Amit, courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority)

10

An ancient balance scale. (Credit: Clara Amit, courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority)

The Caesarea National Park is a favorite stop for tour groups. It has spectacular ruins of the Roman city and harbor plus a well-perserved Crusader fortress. In recent years the park authority has added trendy restaurants, cafes, an art gallery, two short movies on the history of the ancient city, and interactive technological displays for visitors to enjoy. I am planning to be there with my group in a few weeks.

HT: Joe Lauer

Caesarea harbor view

View of the Caesarea harbor interior ruins. (Photo by Luke Chandler)

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About LukeChandler

Luke holds an M.A. in Ancient and Classical History and has been an adjunct professor at Florida College in Temple Terrace, Florida. Luke and his wife Melanie have five children. He serves as a minister in English and Spanish with the North Terrace Church of Christ and participates annually in archaeological excavations in Israel. Luke also leads tours to Europe and the Bible Lands.
This entry was posted in Ancient Rome, Caesarea, Israel, New Discoveries, Paul, underwater archaeology and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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