Uncovering a lost Israel

Waves smash into breakers protecting the

Insert a shovel anywhere within Israel, and you’ll find a trace of one, if not each, of its past reigning civilizations. Or just visit Caesarea, on the Mediterranean Sea, north of Tel Aviv.

Herod, the king of Judea — yes, that Herod — built the city about 25 years before Jesus was born in the area. Designed as an appeasement to Rome and a show of its power, Herod constructed the first man-made port in history.

“It was an artificial harbor in an open sea,” exclaims Jacob Sharvit, marine archaeologist with the Israel Antiquities Authority, whose excitement for the site is still palpable. “They understood everything about the wind, the currents. If we were building it today, we’d use different materials, but do it the same way.”

Visitors don wetsuits and, with a water-proof map, explore the ruins — the original breakwater, a Roman shipwreck, Byzantine anchors — in an underwater museum. There’s much to see on land as well, including an amphitheater, hippodrome and bathhouse and the foundation of an imposing palace that once jutted into the crashing Mediterranean waves.

After Herod’s death, the city became the local Roman capital (Pontius Pilate was prefect) until the year 640, when it was taken by Arabs, who ruled until the Crusaders came in 1101. The Crusaders occupied the city on and off until it was taken by the Mamluks in 1261, who left it in ruins. Bosnian Muslim refugees moved there in 1878, later fleeing during the war of 1948. Each community left its signature in city walls, repaired breakwaters and houses of worship.

And that’s just Caesarea proper. Adjacent to the city’s north side are remains of a Phoenician settlement predating Herod. And nearby — 100 meters off shore and 11 to 12 below sea level — marine archaeologists are uncovering a 10,000- to 11,000-year-old Neolithic settlement. Sharvit explains that the work is brand new and has not been published yet, adding with enthusiasm, “It’s like a puzzle: you find pieces, and try to understand the whole picture. I love working in the sea.”

Archaeological must-sees

Beit She’arim: Inside hollowed-out limestone caves are hundreds of beautifully carved and inscribed sarcophagi that once held the remains of the 2,200- to 2,400-year-old rich and famous.

Masada: In the year 70, about 1,000 fleeing Jews took refuge in a palace in the sky, an abandoned settlement atop a high and isolated desert mesa. Romans soldiers built a ramp to reach them — the Jews killed one another and themselves rather than surrender.

Hezekiah’s Tunnel: Almost 2,800 years ago, to stop invading armies from cutting off Jerusalem’s water supply, workers carved a tunnel to siphon the Gihon Spring’s water under the city walls. You can walk its dark, narrow and still-gushing path.



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
National

Is #JusticeForAvaLynn a case of bullying?

On Saturday, the hashtag #JusticeForAvaLynn became one of the trending topics on Twitter. Users circulated the above photo of 5-year-old AvaLynn, posted by her mother…

International

Terrorism could spread to US and Europe in…

Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah said terrorism would soon spread to Europe and the United States unless it is quickly dealt with in the Middle East,…

National

Ex-Bitcoin official to plead guilty to Silk Road…

Bitcoin entrepreneur Charlie Shrem has reached a plea deal to resolve U.S. charges that he engaged in a scheme to sell over $1 million of…

International

China's army changes tactics to prepare for war…

Chinese President Xi Jinping has said China will spur military innovation and called on the army to create a new strategy for "information warfare" as…

Gossip

Joan Rivers on life support: Report

TMZ reports that comedian Joan Rivers has been placed on life support, "completely reliant on machines to stay alive." Rivers has been hospitalized since she…

Movies

What's new on Netflix in September

September has a supernatural theme for Netflix. UFO "documentaries" and the survivalist reality series "Doomsday Preppers" are among the new series coming to the online…

Going Out

'Friends' coffeehouse Central Perk coming to NYC —…

"Friends" is coming back for a one-off special: "The One with the Free Coffee." Warner Bros. is bringing a pop-up replica of Central Perk, the…

Movies

Interview: 'As Above, So Below' directors: 5 ways…

The fraternal directors of the found footage horror "As Above, So Below" dish on the best ways to frighten the bejesus out of audiences.

NFL

3 things we learned in the Giants preseason…

The final score didn’t matter — a 16-13 win by the Giants — but it would’ve been nice to finally see Big Blue’s new-look offense get on track.

NFL

NFL Power Rankings: Seahawks, Broncos, Patriots, 49ers start…

NFL Power Rankings: Seahawks, Broncos, Patriots start at top

U.S. Soccer

5 facts about new England captain Wayne Rooney

Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney was named as the new England captain by coach Roy Hodgson on Thursday.

NFL

Jets vs. Eagles: 3 things to watch

A win on Thursday night at the Eagles would give the Jets a 3-1 record and just their second winning preseason under head coach Rex Ryan.

Wellbeing

VIDEO: Still not wearing sunscreen? You will after…

Sunscreen is possibly the most often repeated - and ignored - piece of skincare advice. But Thomas Leveritt took a different tactic. With a short…

Food

Twitter used to track down sources of food…

When Chicago health officials saw Twitter users complaining about local food poisoning episodes, they reached out on Twitter to those users and often ended up…

Style

Trend: White hot on the 2014 Emmy's red…

White was one of the big trends on the Emmy's red carpet.

Food

Recipe: Samuel Adams beer-marinated grilled shrimp

Summer calls for two things: a cold beer and light food. Sam Adams' Latitude 48 IPA fairly bursts with citrus notes, making it an ideal marinade…