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Paul’s Prison in Caesarea Found (2000)

After falsely accused by the Jews for defiling the temple by bringing a non-Jew into the temple (Acts 21:28) Paul was arrested and taken for trial by the governor. But being a Roman citizen Paul appealed for a hearing before the Emperor. Paul was taken to Caesarea and while awaiting transportation to Rome, he was kept in “Herod’s judgment hall” (Acts 23:35).

In the south western part of the city, close to the city’s theatre and along the sea shore, an expedition of the Israel Antiquities Authority led by S. Porath revealed a palace and office complex from the first century CE, the period of Herod, the Roman governors, and of Paul. In one of the office buildings a mosaic floor was revealed containing an inscription in Latin:

ADVIORIB \ OFFICI \ CUSTODIAR

“I came to [this] office, I shall be watched [or guarded]”

inscription in Latin

inscription in Latin

Nearby another mosaic floor was found bearing the word  CUST,. meaning .watch. or .guard..

Prof. Verner of Keln University suggests that the inscription indicates the office of a military unit in charge of internal security, like a modern police department. All the finds indicate this was the area where Paul was imprisoned and interrogated by the governor and others while in Caesarea (Acts 24-26). Such a find is far more than another nice new archaeological discovery. It is an important point in the development of early Christianity, and correlates with one of the most famous stories of the New Testament. The structure is therefore a potentially major pilgrimage site, but unfortunately it seems that the Ministry of Tourism does not appreciate the importance and potential of the site and to this day the inscriptions are covered by sand, for their protection, since there is no funding for restoration and proper display of the structure and its inscriptions. I can only hope that in the near future money will be found somehow to display the inscriptions and the building properly.

A plan of Herod's palace in Caesarea

A plan of herod's palace in Caesarea. Two Latin inscriptions allude to a police unit stationed in the north eastern section of the palace (opposite the stadium).

Destruction at the Temple mount.

Despite protests, the Islamic religious party in charge of the Temple Mount (the Waqf) continues to damage the archaeological site known as “Solomon’s stables” in the southeastern part of the Temple Mount. They propose to build a new mosque in the vicinity, but the site is being dug up with no archaeological supervision, and the damage is irreversible. Recent proof of the damage was found when a team from the Israel Antiquities Authority sifted through the rubble taken from the Temple Mountand thrown into the Kidron valley. Among the hundreds of pottery shards dating from the Canaanite to the Ottoman periods, they found a large and specially chiseled slab of stone. The shape seems to indicate that it formed part of a big doorway, but with out knowing the context, i.e. the level in which it was found, dating it is almost impossible.

The public big stone lintel fragment found in the debris originating in the Temple Mount.

The public big stone lintel fragment found in the debris originating in the Temple Mount.

Solomon's Stable

"Solomon's Stable" which were really built by King Herod, as they looked prior to the Muslim construction project at the site, turning the whole area into a mosque.