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The Caesarea Praetorium

A Second Praetorium in Caesarea Maritima, Israel


In the large scale excavations that were carried on in Caesarea during the years 1993-98, a second praetorium was uncovered, in addition to the one on the site of Herod's palace, where St. Paul was put in custody for two years before being fetched for trial in Rome, by the Caesar. The second praetorium is located 350m to the north of Herod's palace, not far from the harbor. It was erected immediately after the defeat of the Jewish Revolt against Rome in Yea 70 CE, as is indicated by the archaeological finds. Latin inscriptions found at the site indicate that it was constructed to serve the Roman procurator of the Roman province of Judea, who was in charge of the financial affairs of the province, while Herod's praetorium was occupied by the Roman governor, who was the military commander of the Roman legion, and the chief judicial authority. The praetorium of the Roman procurator was later occupied by the Byzantine governor of the province (now known as Palaestina Prima).


The audience hall of the praetorium, a vast basilical hall 18x13m in dimensions, was erected on top of four long vault. It served as a law court, as is indicated by a long Greek inscription on a large marble plate (155x80cm in dimensions), found in the area, specifying the fees that the clerks of the law court were allowed to charge for various services. The inscription was a copy of an imperial edict, issued in Constantinopolis by Flavius Puseus, the Praetorian Praefect of the East - the chief financial authority of that part of the Byzantine Empire. Another wing of the complex is identified by inscriptions, deciphered by prof. Kenneth Holum) as a revenue office (skrinion).


The two praetoria known today at Caesarea - the capital of the province, shed interesting light on the seat of power and authority in a provincial capital.


View Reconstruction of the praetorium in its Byzntine phase (6th c.) (b/w).

View Imperial Edict.

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Farther reading:

J. Patrich, “A Government Compound in Roman-Byzantine Caesarea”, in Proceedings of the Twelfth World Congress of Jewish Studies, Division B, History of the Jewish People, Jerusalem 2000, pp. 35*-44* (English section).


L. Di Segni, J. Patrich, K.J. Holum, "A Schedule of Fees for Official Services from Caesarea Maritima," Zeitschrift für Papyrologie und Epigraphik 145 (2003), pp. 273-300.