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E02853: A complex of warehouses, excavated to the north of the praetorium in Caesarea Maritima (Roman province of Palaestina I), was richly decorated with religious wall paintings showing Christ with the *Apostles (S00084), and probably the Three Egyptian martyrs: *Ares/Aretas, Promos, and Elias (S00196), and *Philemon (martyr of Antinoopolis, Egypt, S00386). Finds of small objects and the biblical background suggest the existence of a shrine of *Paul the Apostle (S00008) at the site in the 6th/7th c.

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posted on 2017-05-26, 00:00 authored by Bryan
The praetorium of Caesarea Maritima lies to the south of the Old City of Caesarea. Excavations, supervised by Joseph Patrich, started there in the 1990s, and revealed the existence of a 5th/6th c. complex of vaulted warehouses, and a 'Byzantine' palatial mansion, situated c. 300 m to the north of the actual praetorium.

The site was divided by the excavators into three areas: KK, CC, and NN. In area CC were located four long vaulted rooms that were identified as warehouses of the high imperial praetorium. Vault 1 was converted to a mithraeum, and subsequently at least a part of the complex was probably adapted as a Christian shrine, according to the excavators.

The western wall of Vault 9 bears a painting of Christ with the Apostles (see $E02854).

The wall painting in Vault 11 shows three figures with nimbi that were plausibly identified as the Egyptian martyrs of Askalon: Ares, Promos, and Elias (see E02845).

The painting in Vault 12 shows a figure with a sceptre, spear, and cross.

In the area KK, which lies to the south of CC, on the other side of the Roman street (decumanus), buildings were also identified as warehouses. In Warehouse I (KK 17) were found 'images of saint's heads and crosses' on plaster. In the long hall KK 22 the excavators came across pieces of plasters with fragments of paintings (CIIP 2, nos. 1156; 1157) and cruces gemmatae (CIIP 2, nos. 1154 = $E02855, 1155, 1166, 1167). Fragmentary paintings were also recorded in Warehouse III (KK 9, CIIP 2, no. 1158 = $E02856: probably *Thomas the Apostle and *Philemon, martyr of Antinoopolis), in the courtyard of Warehouse V (KK 25; CIIP 2, no. 1159), and in the building in the northwest corner (KK 39; CIIP 2, no. 1160).

A clay bread-stamp with a Greek inscription probably invoking the blessing of the Apostle Paul (E02840) and a pottery fragment with remnants of a Greek inscription allegedly referring to the Apostle Paul (E02844) were found in Warehouse I, Area KK 17.

Four ampullae of *Menas (the soldier and martyr of Abu Mena, S00073), and a single pottery(??) eulogia of *Symeon the Elder were found in Area KK (Patrich 2000, 382).

For a description of the site, see: Holum, Raban & Patrich 1999; Patrich 2000; Di Segni 2000. For a short description and re-assessment of the evidence by Walter Ameling, see CIIP 2, 76-78.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Apostles (unspecified) : S00084 Arēs, Promos and Ēlias, martyrs in Palestine, ob. 309 : S00196 Paul, the Apostle : S00008 Menas, soldier and martyr Abu Mena : S00073 Symeon the Elder, stylite of Qalat Siman, ob. 459 : S00343 Philēmōn, Apollōnios

Image Caption 1

Plan of the site. From: CIIP 2, 78.

Type of Evidence

Archaeological and architectural - Cult buildings (churches, mausolea) Inscriptions - Graffiti Inscriptions - Inscribed objects Images and objects - Wall paintings and mosaics Images and objects - Narrative scenes Images and objects - Lamps, ampullae and tokens Images and objects - Other portable objects (metalwork, ivory, etc.)


  • Greek

Evidence not before


Evidence not after


Activity not before


Activity not after


Place of Evidence - Region

Palestine with Sinai

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc

Caesarea Maritima

Place of evidence - City name in other Language(s)

Caesarea Maritima Caesarea Maritima Καισάρεια Kaisareia Caesarea Kayseri Turris Stratonis

Cult activities - Places

Cult building - dependent (chapel, baptistery, etc.)

Cult activities - Places Named after Saint

  • Hospital and other charitable institutions

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs

Appropriation of older cult sites

Cult activities - Use of Images

  • Public display of an image

Cult Activities - Relics

Ampullae, eulogiai, tokens

Cult Activities - Cult Related Objects

Ampullae, flasks, etc.


Based on the wall paintings and inscribed small objects, Joseph Patrich and Leah Di Segni suggested that the warehouses were converted to a Christian sanctuary. Furthermore, they connected this evidence with a passage from Acts, which states that, before he was sent to Rome to face the emperor, the Apostle Paul had been for two years detained and interrogated at Caesarea by the governors Felix and Festus residing at the praetorium (Acts 21.15 - 27.1). Consequently, Patrich and Di Segni argue that the presumed Christian shrine in Area KK could be a 'Chapel of Saint Paul', possibly a private one or one belonging to a pilgrims' hostel. Arkadiy Avdokhin supposes that 'we are dealing with a space allocated for religious use within a wider context of extra-ecclesial devotion' (2015, 158.) According to Di Segni and Patrich's original theory, the chapel could have been located on the upper floor of the complex in Area KK. Ameling agrees that the place could readily be connected with Paul the Apostle, based on the biblical story, but at the same time stresses that only one small object from the site, the bread stamp ($E02840), can be unambiguously connected with a cult of Paul. The excavators did not find any archaeological evidence of the second story other than the debris covering the floors; and the religious paintings from Area CC, Ameling says, need not belong to an ecclesiastical building. Ameling concludes that a crucial source for establishing the actual character of the site could be an unpublished fragmentary inscription on marble, found in Warehouse II, Area KK 23, presumed to be a building inscription mentioning a bishop Elias. We think that if a chapel of Paul was located at the site, it certainly did not occupy the whole complex. The main arguments for the existence of a shrine or a pilgrims' hostel somehow connected to Paul, are the bread stamp and the baking oven, both found in area KK, in the south buildings (E02840). Otherwise, the evidence for the cult of Paul is scarce and the iconographic evidence suggests rather links with the cult of two groups of Egyptian martyrs: *Aretas, Promos, and Elias, and *Philemon and his companions. Therefore, it might be that the site served as a hostel for pilgrims heading to Jerusalem from Egypt, while its staff loosely marked the biblical background of the area (the imprisonment of Paul) by distributing to them Paul's eulogiae. As we know that pilgrims used to visit a number of shrines on one journey, we can identify the ampullae and eulogiae of Menas, found at the site, as objects dropped by travellers. The fact that Menas ampullae were found here in some quantity, could support the supposition that people arriving at Caesarea had previously visited his shrine at Abu Mena.


Ameling, W., Cotton, H.M., Eck, W., and others, Corpus inscriptionum Iudaeae/Palaestinae: A Multi-Lingual Corpus of the Inscriptions from Alexander to Muhammad, vol. 2: Caesarea and the Middle Coast 1121-2160 (Berlin, Boston: De Gruyter, 2011), no. 1153-1162. Avdokhin, A., "A dipinto from the so-called <> (Caesarea Maritima): A reading and interpretation", Zeitschrift für Papyrologie und Epigraphik 196 (2015), 155-158 (cf. Bulletin épigraphique (2016), 534). Di Segni, L., "A Chapel of St. Paul at Caesarea Maritima? The Inscriptions", Liber Annuus 50 (2000), 383-400. Holum, K.G., Raban, A., Patrich, J. (eds.), Caesarea Papers, vol. 2: Herod's Temple, the Provincial Governor's Praetorium and Granaries, the Later Harbor, a Gold Coin Hoard, and Other Studies (Portsmouth: R.I., Journal of Roman Archaeology, 1999). Patrich, J., "A Chapel of St. Paul at Caesarea Maritima?", Liber Annuus 50 (2000), 363-382. Patrich, J., "Caesarea in transition: The archaeological evidence from the southwest zone (Areas CC, KK, NN)", in: Holum, K.G, Lapin, H. (eds.), Shaping the Middle East: Jews, Christians, and Muslims in an Age of Transition, 400-800 C.E. (Bethesda, Md.: University Press of Maryland, 2011), 33-64.

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