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CAESAREIA, CAESARIA, CAESAREA (Καισάρεια: Eth. Καισαρέυς).


Kaìsariyeh), a city of the district Cilicia in Cappadocia, at the base of the mountain Argaeus. It was originally called Mazaca, afterwards Eusebeia. (Steph. s. v. Καισάρεια, quoting Strab. p. 537.) The site in the volcanic country at the foot of Argaeus exposed the people to many inconveniences. It was, however, the residence of the kings of Cappadocia. Tigranes, the ally of Mithridates the Great, took the town (Strab. p. 539; Appian, App. Mith. ch. 67), and carried off the people with other Cappadocians to his new town Tigranocerta; but some of them returned after the Romans took Tigranocerta. Strabo has a story that the people of Mazaca used the code of Charondas and kept a law-man (νομωδός) to explain the law; his functions corresponded to those of a Roman jurisconsultus (νομικός). The Roman emperor Tiberius, after the death of Archelaus, made Cappadocia a Roman province, and changed the name of Mazaca to Caesareia (Eutrop. 7.11; Suidas, s. v. Τιβέριος). The change of name was made after Strabo wrote his description of Cappadocia. The first writer who mentions Mazaca under the name of Caesareia is Pliny (6.3): the name Caesareia also occurs in Ptolemy. It was an important place under the later empire. In the reign of Valerian it was taken by Sapor, who put to death many thousands of the citizens; at this time it was said to have a population of 400,000 (Zonar. xii. p. 630). Justinian afterwards repaired the walls of Caesareia (Procop. Aed. 5.4). Caesareia was the metropolis of Cappadocia from the time of Tiberius; and in the later division of Cappadocia into Prima and Secunda, it was the metropolis of Cappadocia Prima. It was the birth-place of Basilius the Great, who became bishop of Caesareia, A.D. 370.

There are many ruins, and much rubbish of ancient constructions about Kaisaryeh. No coins with the epigraph Mazaca are known, but there are numerous medals with the epigraph Εὐσεβεια, and Καισαρεια, and Καις. προς Ἀργαιω.

Strabo, who is very particular in his description of the position of Mazaca, places it about 800 stadia from the Pontus, which must mean the province Pontus; somewhat less than twice this distance from the Euphrates, and six days' journey from the Pylae Ciliciae. He mentions a river Melas, about 40 stadia from the city, which flows into the Euphrates, which is manifestly a mistake [MELAS].



Of Bithynia. Ptolemy (5.1) gives it also the name Smyrdaleia, or Smyrdiane in the Cod. Palat., and in the old Latin version. Dion Chrysostorm (Or. 47. p. 526, Reiske) mentions a small place of this' name near Prusa. Stephanus (s. v. Καισάρεια) does not mention it, though he adds that there are other places of this name besides those which he mentions. The site is unknown.

There is a place now called Kesri or Balikesri, that is, Old Kesri, on the Caicus, near the great [p. 1.470]road from Smyrna to Constantinople. The place was probably a Caesarea, but it is not within the limits of Bithynia. (Leake, Asia Minor, p. 271, and map.)




A maritime city of Palestine, founded by Herod the Gteat, and named Caesareia in honour of Caesar Augustus. Its site was formerly occupied by a town named Turris Stratonis, which, when enlarged and adorned with white marble palaces and other buildings, was not unworthy of the august name that was conferred upon it. Chief among its wonders was the harbour, constructed where before there had been only an open roadstead on a dangerous coast. It was in size equal to the renowned Peiraeens, and was secured against the prevalent south-west winds by a mole or breakwater of massive construction, formed of blocks of stone of more than 50 feet in length, by 18 in width, and 9 in thickness, sunk in water 20 fathoms deep. It was 200 feet in length, one half of which was exposed to the violence of the waves. The remainder was adorned with towers at certain intervals, and laid out in vaults which formed hostelries for the sailors, in front of which was a terrace walk corn handing a view of the whole harbour, and forming an agreeable promenade. The. entrance to the harbour was on the north. The city constructed of polished stone encircled the harbour. It was furnished with an agora, a praetorium, and other public buildings; and conspicuous on a mound in the midst, rose a temple of Caesar, with statues of the emperor and of the imperial city. A rock-hewn theatre, and a spacious circus on the south of the harbour, commanding a fine sea view, completed the adornment of this pagan monument of Herod's temporising character, on which he had spent twelve years of zealous and uninterrupted exertion, and enormous suns of money. (J. AJ 15.10.6, B. J. 1.21. § § 5--7.)

These great works, but especially its commodious harbour, soon raised Caesareia to the dignity of a metropolis ( “caput Palaestinae,” Tac. Hist. 2.79) and it is so recognised, not only in the early annals of the Christian Church, but in the civil history of that period. It was the principal seat of government to the Roman praefects and to the titular kings of Judaea, and the chief part of its inhabitants were Syrians, although there was now a Jewish community found there, which had not been the case at an earlier period of its history as Strato's Tower. (Ant. 20.7. § § 7, 9.)

Its name underwent another change, and Pliny (5.14) happily identifies the three names with the one site. “Stratonis turris, eadem Caesarea, abt) Herode rege condita: nunc colonial prima Flavia, a Vespasiano Imperatore deducta.” But it still retained its ancient name and title in the Ecclesiastical records, as the metropolitan see of the First Palestine; and was conspicuous for the constancy of its martyrs and confessors in the various persecutions of the Church, but especially in the last. (Euseb. H. E. viii. sub fin.) It is noted also as the see of the Father of Ecclesiastical History, and the principal seat of his valuable literary labours.

It was a place of considerable importance during the occupation of the Holy Land by the Crusaders, as one stronghold along the line of coast, and it shared the various fortunes of the combatants without materially affecting them.

This once famous site, principally interesting as the place where “the door of faith was first opened to the Gentiles,” is still marked by extensive ruins, situated where Josephus would teach us to look for them, halfway between Dora (Tantura) and Joppa (Jaffa),--retaining, in an Arabic form, the Greek name given it by Herod. The line of wall and the dry ditch of the Crusaders' town may be clearly traced along their whole extent; but the ancient city was more extensive, and faint traces of its walls may be still recovered in parts. The ruins have served as a quarry for many generations, and the houses and fortifications of Jaffa, Acre, Sidon, and even of Beirout, have been built or repaired with stones from this ancient site. Enough, however, still remains to attest the fidelity of the Jewish historian, and to witness its former magnificence, especially in the massive fragments of its towers and the substructions of its mole, over which may now be seen the prostrate columns of costly pillars of granite, porphyry, and various marbles, which once formed the portico of its terraced walk. (See Traill's Josephus, vol. i. p. 49, &c.) Conspicuous in the midst of the ruins, on a levelled platform, are the substructions of the Cathedral of the Crusaders, which doubtless occupied the site of the Pagan temple described by Josephus. [G.W]

hide References (4 total)
  • Cross-references from this page (4):
    • Appian, Mithridatic Wars, 10.67
    • Tacitus, Historiae, 2.79
    • Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia, 6.3
    • Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia, 5.14
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