2011
05.13

SYNOPSIS:

A visit of the ancient port town of Caesarea.

Old and new don’t harmonize very often, but in Caesarea restaurants, bars, galleries and shops have been integrated into an outdoor archaeological museum in a way that works.  It provides the locals with a place to get away and tourists with a place to hang out.  For a mixed group like us – Maria and I will see “stone after stone” without complaint, David is patient either way, whereas Jack is demanding his frequent cappuccino breaks – this worked really well.

The archaeological part consists of an ancient Roman theater – now used for contemporary concerts and plays.  Race track, temple remains, baths, residences, and harbor fragments have been excavated and are left as is.  A not so spectacular aqueduct set against the Mediterranean Sea makes for a breathtaking site.  If it had not been quite so windy, we would have loved to go for a swim.  Instead we fought against the wind to keep our balance, were chewing sand and within minutes had a skin that felt like sandpaper from the fine dust which stuck to our sun-screened faces.

From the Phoenicians to the Ottomans, this site was recognized for its potential as a port.  In a very tacky film we watched some of its historic developments.

A few things stuck out:

Everyone in the long line of rulers over this area came in, conquered its predecessor, and then snatched the port as an asset developing it on the foundation of the predecessor.  Archaeological layers attest to that.  The Mamluks however, came in to conquer and left a wasteland behind.  We have seen that before at Akko and elsewhere.  Why?

One of the most innovative construction techniques was used by the Romans to expand the harbor:  Huge wooden grid-boxes were built containing volcanic ashes.  They were sunk into the sea and by coming in contact with water the ashes hardened and formed a solid building foundation!   That’s how they could expand construction far out into the sea; truly remarkable.

And finally – how come we no longer use any of these areas but turn them into tourist attractions?  Every place we have been to in the last few days, used to be a functional human habitat – now we stroll around here, poke our noses into the past and click around with our cameras.   Something seems really decadent about this.  But that’s the way it is.

One gallery displayed “Israeli Soft Paintings”.  I had no idea what to expect.  But a unique “painting” technique was practiced there by five artists in residence who claim to have invented this process.  From synthetic material – recycled plastic bottles and such – a felt-like “canvas” is prepared and tufts of material in different dyes are tacked into it with a needle.  The image at that point is very fluffy and three dimensional.  A tool containing 100 needles is then used to pad it all down further.  And in the final stages, a 14,000 needle “iron” does the final touches and smooths out the material into a nearly 2-dimensional “painting”.  This painting will not fade, not collect dust, not attract bugs, and will even be fire resistant; all because of the synthetic fiber.  Well, there is something new!

This was a more leisure day than yesterday as we only tackled one thing for the day.  A nice kosher neighborhood family diner rounded out the day and for once I got some blog-work done.

Good night.

 

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