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The Arab Period

In the 7th century, Caesarea was conquered by the Muslims and it became a small peripheral port on the shoreline of the ancient Arab kingdom. Between the 10th and 12th centuries, rule of Caesarea exchanged hands between the Crusaders and Saladin.In the 13th century, Caesarea was conquered by the Mamluks led by Sultan Baibars, and was destroyed along with the rest of the coastal cities of Israel.

Islamic Caesarea is not well known in the study of Israel, and there is little historical or achaeological evidence of the period. Byzantine Caesarea fell to the Arabs after a prolonged siege in the mid 7th century by Mu’awiya, the commander of the first Caliphate armies headed by Omar Ibn al-Khattab. At the time, Israel was a middle point in the Muslim conquest campaign against the Byzantine-Christian world.

A well-known testimony is that of the historian and geographer Al-Maqdisi who provided a detailed description of Caesarea, and noted that, “there is no other city as beautiful… its lands are good and its fruits are exquisite.” During the Fatimid Caliphate (in the second half of the 9th century) Caesarea was one of the coastal cities that played a role in warning of enemy advancement. Although no conclusive evidence has been found of a protected port during this period, it is possible that there was commercial activity and trade relations with other Mediterranean cities.