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Excavations in Israel

The Caesarea City and Port Exploration Project

From the earliest years of the Roman Empire through the fall of the Crusader Kingdom in the Holy Land, Caesarea on the north coast of Israel was a thriving hub of power and innovation. One of the largest ports on the eastern Mediterranean seaboard, Caesarea was a booming harbor that received frequent traffic from throughout world. It was the shining creation of Herod the Great, the capital of the province of Judaea, a hotspot for Jewish resistance to Roman rule, a destination for St. Peter’s mission and a Late Antique center for Christian scholarship, a major marketplace under the Islamic caliphates, and a formidable fortress for western knights. Caesarea was thus a microcosm of the dramatic changes that swept through the region over fourteen centuries and define our world today.

The Caesarea City and Port Exploration Project (CCPEP) is a collaboration between Vanderbilt University (housed in the Department of Classical and Mediterranean Studies) and the Israel Antiquities Authority. Since 2017, Professors Joseph Rife and Phillip Lieberman, in cooperation with Professors Markus Eberl and David Michelson, have joined Israeli and European colleagues to explore the major archaeological site of Caesarea Maritima, on the coast between Tel Aviv and Haifa. By digging in the heart of the Roman, Byzantine, and Islamic city, CCPEP hopes to reveal the long-term history of a diverse local community and its urban landscape as they evolved through drastically changing political, religious, and environmental conditions.

Vanderbilt students can join the team excavating at Caesarea by enrolling in the Maymester. The program offers an introduction to field methods in archaeology, from daily excavation to survey finds processing and data management; and allows students to participate in a schedule of lectures, hikes, and excursions to sites and museums across the region. Students can also participate in CCPEP by developing a research project or Immersion experience.

Contact Professor Rife or Professor Lieberman to learn more about the program.