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Dates Excavated:

1. 1956, 1962
2. 1982, 1984


1. Michael Avi-Yonah
2. The Joint Expedition to Caesarea Maritima (JECM) under direction of Robert J. Bull

Archaeological Information: Field O, Area A

Date of Building Construction:

4th century?

Place of Building in Settlement:
Located inside the northern gate of the city. [933]

Building Description:
Very little is known about the layout of the building, but a final report on the different excavations and surveys done at the synagogue site in Caesarea was published in 2009 by Govaars, Spiro, and White. The authors try to give an accurate overview of the different phases of the building, distinguishing at least four phases to the building: first the structure of Stratum I-III, second, Stratum IV, third, Stratum V, and fourth, a new Stratum VI or a later Phase of Stratum V. In the first three strata the structure was a square building with a cistern. In Stratum IV, which is dated to the late 4th century,[934] the structure apparently was a large hall measuring 18 by 9 meters, oriented east-west with the entrance on the short eastern side facing the town. However, the only evidence for this orientation is a Greek inscription in the pavement facing that direction. The structure of Stratum V is an entirely new building orientated north-south with a narrow entrance hall and a central hall.[935] The building of Stratum IV had a mosaic floor with geometric designs and Greek inscriptions. There is evidence for a platform inside the building, as well as a chancel screen and posts. There is also evidence of an entry hall and an adjoining triclinium.
Based on this information, it is unclear if this building indeed was a synagogue. There are no in situ elements, design or otherwise, associated with a typical synagogue and so its identification has been disputed, including by Jodi Magness.[936]

Maps and Plans

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First Deposit

Date Excavated: 1962

Deposit Location:

In the plastering of a projection which might have contained the Ark, or close to a wall of the building: the context and exact location are unknown.

Archaeological Information:

Area A, stratum IV [937]

Certain association with the building itself? Yes

Deposit Retrievable? Unknown

Deposit Type: II?4

Deposit Description:

The exact findspot of this deposit of 3700 bronze coins is unknown. One report by Avi-Yonah states that the coins were found “in the plastering of a projection [of the synagogue] nearer the sea.”[938] However, this building has the sea on both the northern and the western sides. Where was this projection? Another report states that the coins were found “near one of the walls,” but does not give additional information as to the precise location of this wall.[939] Govaars, Spiro, and White point out that the differences in the description of the exact findspot thus heighten the uncertainty over the context of the coin deposit. They did ascertain, based on other descriptions in Avi-Yonah’s reports, that “towards the sea”, probably meant “towards the west” of the building.[940] Pictures taken by E. Jerry Vardaman during the excavations show Avi-Yonah and a measuring stick near the coins. The scattering of coins covers approximately 30 X 30 cm.[941] Based on the time of the day (between 11 am and 1 pm) and the position of the shadow, Govaars, Spiro, and White suspect that Avi-Yonah was facing north at the time the picture was taken, which would locate the deposit on his eastern side, west of a wall. If the projection was on the west side of the building, then this deposit was found outside the building. However, all this is highly speculative; as long as we do not have a plan from 1962, it remains impossible to determine exactly where the deposit was found.

Container Present? No

Description of Coins:
According to communications between Ariel and Govaars, Spiro, and White, Yaakov Meshorer was the first to identify and date the 3700 coins, which were, according to him, almost all from the time of Constantius II (latest: 361 CE), but no information was published on this analysis.[942] An unpublished numismatic study was subsequently undertaken by Jean-Michel Gozlan in 1986, who included in his work a descriptive catalogue of coin types.[943] This study is kept at the IAA Coin Department, but is not accessible. Bijovsky used the hoard in her article from 2007 on the possible connection between the Gallus Revolt and coin hoard found at Lod, Israel.[944] She states that the Caesarea deposit has a range between 316 and 361 CE. Only 1172 of the 3700 coins in the hoard were available for this study, and only 429 coins were in a state of preservation that enabled complete identification. Finally, in 2014, Bijovsky published a full catalogue of 1454 of the coins in an online article (, together with a summarizing article.[945] The same number of coins analyzed in her report is described in the IAA Coin Department database. Sometimes, however, there are discrepancies between the online publication and the IAA database in the weights and sizes of the coins. In these cases, the IAA database has been followed. In cases where the dates are different, the online publication has been followed as the dates seem to be more specific.[946] There are other mistakes in the online report, for example, where multiple IAA numbers appear twice or IAA entries are missing: I have tried to resolve those issues as much as I could in this database. Of the approximately 3700 coins found in the Caesarea deposit, circa 2245 were illegible, leaving us with 1454 or 1455 legible coins.[947] The coins range in date from 315 CE to the end of the 4th or beginning of the 5th century. The bulk of the deposit, however, ranges from 341 to 361 CE, or a span of only 20 years (1332 coins, or 91.5%). Around 59 coins are earlier and include GLORIA EXERCITVS coins, VICTORIAE DD AVGG Q NN coins, VOTA types, She-Wolf with Twins coins, Victory on a Galley coins, and posthumous issues of Constantine I of the quadriga and VN-MR types.[948] Eleven coins are younger and are possibly intrusive: they are common types but appear here in very small quantities, a sign that, according to Bijovsky, they were not originally part of the deposit.[949] All the coins in the deposit can be attributed to the house of Constantine, according to the following break-down: 38 coins of Constantine I, 8 coins of Constantine II, 25 coins of Constans I, 1074 coins of Constantius II, 146 coins of Constantius Gallus, and 61 coins of Julian II. The main coin types are the FEL TEMP REPARATIO types (about 65% of all coins), and the SPES REIPVBLICE types (about 18.5%). The minting place of 871 coins could be determined: 261 are from Antioch (30%), 202 from Alexandria (23%), 108 from Cyzicus (12%), 104 from Constantinople (12%), 53 from Rome (6%), 44 from Heraclea (5%), 36 from Thessalonica (4%), 35 from Nicomedia (4%), 10 from Siscia (1%), 7 from Aquileia, 5 from Arles, 2 from Sirmium, 2 from Trier, and one from Lugdunum. The two coins from Sirmium are the only coins from this mint found in synagogue deposits; they are both FEL TEMP REPARATIO coins of Constantius II, dated 351-355 CE.[950]

Conspectus Table:

Conspectus table Caesarea, Deposit 1. This table can be seen in full screen by clicking the icon on the bottom right. For more details on the specific coins in each row, please hover over the numbers.

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– Sukenik E.L., 1951, “More about the ancient Synagogue of Caesarea,” in: Louis M. Rabinowitz Fund for the Excavation of Ancient Synagogues, Bulletin II, pp. 28-30
– Avi-Yonah M., 1960, “The Synagogue of Caesarea (Preliminary report),” in: Louis M. Rabinowitz Fund, Bulletin III, pp. 44-48
– No Author, 1962, “A Hoard of 3,700 Late-Roman Coins from Caesarea,” in Israel numismatic Bulletin, Vols. 3-4, p. 106
– Avi-Yonah M., 1963, “Notes and News ⸺ Caesarea,” in: Israel Exploration Journal, Vol. 13, pp. 146-148
– Kadman L., 1967, “The Monetary Development of Palestine in the Light of Coin Hoards,” in: A. Kindler (ed.), The Patterns of Monetary Development in Phoenicia and Palestine in Antiquity, pp. 311–324
– Avi-Yonah M. & Negev A., 1975, “Caesarea,” in: Encyclopedia of Archaeological Excavations in the Holy Land, Jerusalem: Israel Exploration Society, pp. 270-285
– Levine L., 1975, Caesarea under Roman Rule, Leiden: Brill
– Chiat M., 1982, Handbook of Synagogue Architecture, Chico: Scholars Press, pp. 153-158
– Ilan Z., 1991, Ancient Synagogues in Israel, Tel Aviv: Ministry of Defence, pp. 236-237 (Hebrew)
– Avi-Yonah M., 1993 “Caesarea,” in: NEAEHL, pp. 278-279
– Dauphin C. 1998, La Palestine Byzantine: Peuplement et Population, Oxford, Vol. 3, pp. 744-747
– Bijovsky G., 2007, “Numismatic Evidence for the Gallus Revolt: The Hoard from Lod,” in: Israel Exploration Journal, Vol. 57, No. 2, pp. 187-203
– Milson D., 2007, Art and Architecture of the Synagogue in Late Antique Palestine: in the Shadow of the Church, Leiden/Boston, pp. 332-334 Govaars M., Spiro M, and White L.M., 2009, The Joint Expedition to Caesarea Maritima Excavations Report: Field O, The Joint Expedition to Caesarea Maritima. Excavation Reports 9, Boston: ASOR
– Magness J., 2010, “Field O: The “Synagogue” Site. Book Review,” in: American Journal of Archaeology, online, January 2010 (114.1) – Spigel C., 2012, Ancient Synagogue Seating Capacities: Methodology, Analysis and Limits, Mohr Siebeck, pp. 171-173
– Hachlili R., 2013, Ancient Synagogues: Archaeology and Art: New Discoveries and Current Research, Leiden: Brill, pp. 121-122, 541, 562
– Raphael K. & Bijovsky G., 2014, “The Coin Hoard from Caesarea Maritima and the 363 CE Earthquake,” in: Israel Numismatic Research, Vol. 9, pp. 173-192


– The Bornblum Eretz Israel Synagogues Website:
– Bijovsky Catalogue FH hoard final:
– Bible Walks:


[933] Remains of a synagogue at Caesarea were first reported in 1932 and the area was partly cleared in 1945 by J. Ory, who started the first, preliminary excavations at the site in 1947 (Avi-Yonah 1960, p. 44; Avi-Yonah 1993, p. 271, p. 278).

[934] This date is uncertain, as the pottery, glass, coins, or other small finds of the building have never been published. I am providing this date based on the analysis of the building by Govaars, Spiro and White.

[935] Raphael and Bijovsky 2014, p. 177.

[936] Govaars et al. 2009, p. 140; Magness 2010.

[937] But according to Govaars, Spiro, and White it is not even certain that the coin hoard can be associated with Stratum IV because of the discrepancies between the written evidence, unknown find spot, and the lack of clear photographic evidence by excavator Avi-Yonah (Govaars et al. 2009, p. 80).

[938] Avi-Yonah, 1963, p. 147. He also suggests that the projection might have contained the Ark. If this is true, then the Ark (or Torah shrine) would not have been placed facing Jerusalem, which is situated southeast of Caesarea.

[939] Avi-Yonah and Negev, 1975, p. 278.

[940] Govaars et al. 2009, p. 42.

[941] Govaars et al. 2009, p. 51 and Fig. 51. I have tried to receive permission to add this picture to this study but was unsuccessful. The rights of all images taken during this excavation campaign lay with the E. Jerry Vardaman Estate (Marylinda Govaars told me they had only received one-time publication permission for the images in their work), which is now affiliated with the Cobb Institute at Mississippi State University. When I reached out to them, they told me that the widow (now remarried) Mrs Alfalene Vardaman still has all the rights, but she is in a frail state and nobody is sure who currently makes decisions on her behalf. Further inquiries in this matter did not receive a reply. The picture, however, can be freely found on the internet (

[942] No Author 1962, p. 106; Govaars et al. 2009, p. 42, and footnote 67 on p. 245.

[943] Mentioned in Bijovsky 2007b, p. 195 and 2014, p. 183, referring to an unpublished article in the coin department of the IAA, Jerusalem, written by Gozlan in 1986.

[944] Bijovsky 2007b.

[945] Bijovsky 2014, pp. 183-186.

[946] These decisions were made after deliberations with Gabriela Bijovsky and Donald Ariel.

[947] Bijovsky mentions 1453 analyzed coins in her 2014 article (p. 183), but her online catalogue gives information on 1454 coins. The IAA database has 1455 coins.

[948] Bijovsky cites a couple of noteworthy coins within this group: two posthumous issues of Constantine I (one Aeterna Pietas type from Lyons and a Ivstvenmem type from Nicomedia depicting Aequitas), a coin of Constantine I from Trier reading VIRTVS AVGGNN, and a rare coin Constantine I coin from Antioch with the Constantinvs Avg reverse type.

[949] Bijovsky 2014, pp. 184-185. If they are intrusive, then the deposit ends around 361 CE.

[950] Although this deposit is not comparable to any ancient synagogue deposit, Bijovsky compares it to a hoard from the village of ancient Qasrin, which has a similar date and make-up of types and minting places (Bijovsky 2014, p. 186).