Caesarea Maritima and the Grand Strategy of the Roman Empire

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Caesarea Maritima has been considered an essential part ofthe grand plan allegedly conceived by theRoman Empire for the Mediterranean.The massive artificial harbour built there between the years 25-13 BCE hasbeen seen as an especially designed point d’appui for Roman troops in the ongoing struggle with the ParthianEmpire.The very foundation and development ofCaesarea has been conjectured to have involved deliberate plan-ning by the central imperial government in Rome.Still more far-reaching hypotheses attribute part ofthe reason for the construction ofCaesarea’s harbour to the vulnerability and decreasing efficiency ofAntioch on the Orontes,more than 200 miles to the north.Finally,Caesarea was assigned an obvious place on the map ofmajor ports whichsupported the traffic ofthe great grain clippers,supposedly sailing under the organization ofthe Annona at Rome.This article aims to take issue with these and similar conjectures.The focus currently laid on a widely unsub-stantiated notion ofa Roman grand strategy at work should shift to a series oflocal factors playing in the back- ground ofCaesarea’s foundation,employment,and maintenance as a large artificial harbour.A picture ofwidedisregard ofthe harbour,both by the central Roman government and by troops operating in the region,would sug- gest that it may hardly be ascribed a significant role in the logistics ofthe Roman Empire.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSkyllis
Subtitle of host publicationconference contributions of In Poseidon's Realm XVIII
StatePublished - 2013


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