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History

Mithraic Temple Graphic
Diagram of Mithraic Temple
Used by permission from Robert Fritzius

Caesarea: Phoenician traders established Strato's Tower, now called Caesarea, around the 5th century BC. In 22 BC, Herod built an artificial harbor on the site of the ancient port, and a temple to Augustus and Roma, as well as a palace, a theatre, a racetrack, and an aqueduct that carried water from Mount Carmel. The port attracted trade from Rome, and Herod used revenues to fund the building of Caesarea. In 4 BC Caesarea became the seat of the Roman prefects and headquarters of the army’s 10th Legion.

Later, Emperor Hadrian had to rebuild much of the city, including its harbor, after civil unrest and natural disaster destroyed much of it. A new pier inhibited silting up of the inner harbor. A huge new hippodrome was built inland. He converted one of the warehouses into a Mithraic Temple to accommodate the religious needs of his military. In the 4th century, Emperor Constantine built a wall around Byzantine Caesarea. Christians, Jews and Samaritans lived in a tenuous truce, punctuated by sporadic unrest. During this period, silt accumulated in the inner harbor and buildings were constructed on the new land.

Carthage: According to legend, Queen Dido, also known as Elissa, founded the city of Carthage in northern Africa after fleeing her homeland following the murder of her husband by her younger brother, the King of Tyre. Carthage became a rich trading center by 1100 BC and developed a powerful navy to protect its economic interests. During the 5th century BC, Hanno the Navigator sailed the western coast of Africa, exploring and colonizing new Phoenician outposts to expand trade for Carthage.

Eusebius: A student of the theologian Origen and confidante of Emperor Constantine, Eusebius became the Bishop of Caesarea, playing a pivotal role in the organization of the Christian church. In Eusebius’s account of history, Constantine had a dramatic conversion to Christianity and later, sought to unify his people through his new religion. In the year 322 CE, Emperor Constantine directed Eusebius to oversee the inscription of 50 copies of the Bible to be used by the clergy of the Empire. Eusebius was the most notable historian of early Christianity and shaped its history by presenting the creed of his own church at the Council of Nicaea in 325. The Nicene Creed is still widely used as a profession of faith among Christians today.

Gadifer de la Salle: A French knight and crusader, Gadifer joined Jean de Béthencourt to explore and conquer the Canary Islands for the Kingdom of Castile in 1402. They conquered the northern island of Lanzarote, and Gadifer explored the archipelago as Béthencourt left for Cádiz to secure financial backing from King Henry III of Castile. Béthencourt returned as king of the Canaries. Gadifer was insulted; he left the Canaries and appealed unsuccessfully to the court of Castile. Afterward, he returned to his homeland of France.

Hanno the Navigator: Carthage dispatched Hanno with a fleet of sixty ships to explore and colonize the northwestern coast of Africa. He sailed through the straits of Gibraltar, founded and reestablished seven colonies in Morocco and explored the land along the African coast including the isle of Cerne, Mogador, the cape of Hespera Keras and possibly, the Canary Islands. Later, Hanno became king of Carthage.

The Phoenicians*: An enigmatic loosely defined maritime people who identified themselves mostly through their city affiliations, they shared a common language, and culture that centered around trade. Thus, the Phoenicians were deeply influenced by the customs of those with whom they traded. They were highly adaptive, assimilating into many cultures while retaining their language, their skills, and their enduring connection to the sea. Their most notable contributions to humanity include their alphabet, also known as an abjad*, and their skills as boat-builders, masons, glassmakers, and navigators.

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Abjad

The Phoenicians