Photo Credit: Muhammad Khater, Israel Antiquities Authority
The aqueduct arch that collapsed on the Caesarea beach, August 18, 2023.

An arch of the Caesarea aqueduct collapsed overnight Friday on Aqueduct Beach, which is an active bathing beach. Inspectors from the Israel Antiquities Authority arrived at the site Friday morning and decided to send an IAA Preservation Administration team to the site on Sunday to assess the damage.

The collapsed section of the aqueduct was built during the rule of Emperor Hadrian (117 to 138 CE).

Illustration of the arch before and after its collapse. The collapsed part is in red. / Conservation Administration, Israel Antiquities Authority

Caesarea’s upper aqueduct is unique in its size, quality, and complexity of construction. It is built on top of arches, on which was laid a canal that led the water from springs in southern Mount Carmel to the city of Caesarea, providing drinking water to the city that served as the Roman Empire’s regional capital from the 1st to the 7th century CE.

The construction of the aqueduct and its arches reflects the changes that took place in the dimensions of the city of Caesarea and its increasing water needs.

General view of the aqueduct in Caesarea. / Emil Eljam, Israel Antiquities Authority

“Luckily, no bathers were killed here,” said a frustrated Eli Escozido, the IAA director. “We have been warning, presented documents and plans, pointed out that the situation is catastrophic and there is a real fear of collapse, met repeatedly met with the owners of the land, even offered to finance some of the work with the understanding that it is simply a disaster waiting to happen. I believe that now we will finally find a listening ear.”

General view of the aqueduct in Caesarea. / Emil Eljam, Israel Antiquities Authority

“We at the Antiquities Authority find it appropriate to report to the public on this occasion that the aqueduct that goes to Acco, which is about 15 km long, is in an even worse state and is facing collapse,” said Ami Shahar, Director of the IAA’s Preservation Administration. The engineering situation there is critical and requires immediate treatment.”

The Israel Antiquities Authority is calling on the Regional Council and the Caesarea Development Company to urgently provide budgets to restore the aqueduct and stabilize its remains which are severely endangered.


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