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The Mithraeum at Caesarea Maritima
The Joint Expedition to Caesarea Maritima Excavation Reports Vol II

By Robert J. Bull, Andrew H Bobeck, Jane DeRose Evans, Robert S Fritzius and Alexandra L Ratzlaff

The Mithraeum at Caesarea Maritima
Hardback, 113 pages £61.00
Published: 2017
ISBN: 9780897570978
Format: 279mm x 216mm
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Subjects: American Schools of Oriental Research, Archaeology, Cultural and Social Studies, Philosophy and Religion
Series: ASOR Archaeological Reports

Robert J. Bull began the excavation of a vault on the south side of the Inner Harbour of Caesarea Maritima, Israel. The vault was one of a row of warehouses built to store goods unloaded from the harbour built by Herod the Great.

Begins with an introduction to the excavation process; the study of the stratigraphy (analysis of the order and position of layers of archaeological remains) considers the later excavations of the adjoining vault, and includes new photographs, plans, and section drawings. The original construction phase, the vault's transformation into a Mithraeum (a sanctuary or temple of the god Mithras), abandonment, and final use as a "charnel house" are discussed in detail.

Also, includes detailed studies of the fragmentary wall paintings depicting Mithraic iconography, and of the medallion found inside the vault, in the context of the practices of Mithraism in the ancient world. The reconstruction of the ceiling splay and the interpretation in terms of astrological symbolism important to Mithraism are also detailed.

A second volume describing the structure of the vault and the material culture found is planned.





List of Illustrations

List of Tables




Chapter 1 - Introduction and Background

A. The Site: Physical Setting and Early History

B. The Backstory: Early Challenges for the Harvard Expedition

C. The Harvard Expedition: Excavation Strategy, Methods, and Ensuing Challenges

1. 1908 Fieldwork

2. 1909 Fieldwork

3. 1910 Fieldwork

D. Summary

Chapter 2 - Horizontal Axis: The Ostraca Building's Original Footprint and Surrounding Area

A. The Ostraca House

1. Wall A: Ahab's "Main Wall"

2. The Ostraca House: Entrance Halls, Storerooms, and Eastern Corridors (Long-Rooms)

3. Reconstructions

4. Later Additions (?)

B. The Osorkon House

C. Problems North and East of the Ostraca and Osorkon Houses

D. Summary

Chapter 3 - Vertical Axis: The Ostraca Building's Complex Depositional History

A. Stratigraphic Analysis: Summary of Sections Published by the Harvard Expedition

B. Stratigraphic Analysis: Discussion of Sections Relevant to the Ostraca House

1. Principal Longitudinal Section CD

2. Principal Lateral Section GH

3. Subsidiary Lateral Section AB

C. Summary

Chapter 4 - Ceramic Considerations

A. The Harvard Excavations and the Joint Expedition: Collating the Data

B. Reisner's Presentation of Pottery: A Meager Repertoire

C. The 1910 Ostraca: Spatial Distribution

D. The 1910 Ostraca: Typological Notes

E. The 1910 Ostraca-related Pottery: Typological Notes

F. The 1910 Ostraca and Ostraca-related Pottery: Comparative Ceramic Analysis

1. Epigraphic Pottery

2. Bowl Types Representing Parallels for Ostraca Pottery Forms

3. Non-epigraphic Pottery from the Same Findspots as the Ostraca

4. Comments on Some Jar Types Associated with Ostraca Pottery Forms

G. Summary

Chapter 5 - The Samaria Ostraca and Modern Scholarship

Chapter 6 - Back to the Backstory: The Characters and Concerns behind the Harvard Expedition to Samaria

Appendix A - Ostraca: Provenance Data and Vessel Descriptions

Appendix B - Ostraca: Sequence of Discovery

Appendix C - Non-epigraphic Pottery with Provenance Data Matching those of the Ostraca

Appendix D - D. G. Lyon's Report to the President of Harvard University for the Academic Year 1898-1899, Showing the Financial Generosity of Jakob Heinrich Schiff

Appendix E - Reisner's Field Drawings of Selected Ostraca




Biblical References

Author Index

Subject Index




The authors are to be highly commended for assembling this volume under challenging circumstances. The book, most appropriate for a specialized audience, makes an important contribution to the study of the cult of Mithras in the eastern empire and serves as an appropriate tribute to Robert Bull's many years dedicated to study of the remains of Caesarea Maritima.
Caroline Downing

- American Journal of Archaeology, Vol. 122, No. 3 (July 2018)

Robert Jehu Bull was the emeritus director of the Drew University's Institute for Archaeological Research, later the Joint Expeditions to Caesarea Maritima, where he excavated from 1971 to 1996, exposing major parts of the city's street plan, warehouse complex, a residential quarter, and parts of the hippodrome. Before excavating at Caesarea, he excavated and led excavations at Shechem, Balatah, Ai, Pella, Tell er-Ras, and Khirbet Shema'.

Andrew H. Bobeck His book "Techniques for Improving Digital Photographs" by OutSkirts Press covers in depth the graphics technique he used to recover the faded colours of the Caesarea fresco.

Jane DeRose Evans is a Professor of Art History and is affiliated with the Department of Greek and Latin Classics at Temple University. She has excavated in Greece, Italy, England, Israel, and France. Currently, she is the specialist numismatist for the Archaeological Exploration of Sardis (Harvard and Cornell universities) and Bir Madkhour (George Washington University).

Robert S. Fritzius has published the Introduction and First Part of an English translation of Walter Ritz's "Recherches critiques sur l'Électrodynamique Générale", and served as staff artist for the excavations at Elusa, Israel.  He is a member of the American Astronomical Society, the Committee on Space Research, and the Venus Exploration and Analysis Group.

Alexandra L. Ratzlaff is a Fellow at the Albright Institute of Archaeological Research in Jerusalem and a University Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Maritime Civilizations at the University of Haifa. She recently completed a two-year Fulbright Postdoctoral Fellowship at the University of Haifa. Her research and publication projects focus on the Roman army, Roman and Byzantine ceramics, the Late Antique maritime economy and trade networks of the Mediterranean world.



Publication Details:

 Hardback , 113 pages
 279mm x 216mm

BIC Code:
  HIS002000, SOC003000
 American Schools of Oriental Research


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