Under Roman occupation, the province of Judea was ruled by King Herod. This was because it was a client kingdom that had semi-independence from the Roman Empire. Regardless of whoever appeared to be in charge, the people of Judea were aware that Rome was in control. Although Herod may not have been viewed favourably by the citizens of Judea, he has earned a special place in Judaism due to his reconstruction of the temple. Since his reconstructed temple was the largest building in the Roman world at the time, it became an important place for gentiles as well. Jerusalem was becoming both a place for pilgrimage and a tourist destination. Herod’s building projects can be seen in many places in Israel, Caesarea being one of them. The construction of an artificial port allowed the Romans to finally dock ships on the coast. This port, named Caesarea to pay respect to the imperial family, became the capitol of the province. Herod’s death led to his client kingdom being divided between his three sons. Archelaeus, the son that claimed the most important cities, was disliked by the Romans and replaced with procurators. Pontius Pilate was among the first to take up this position.
Pontius Pilate was a procurator of the province shortly after the death of Herod. He is best known for his role in the New Testament as the one who sent Jesus to his death. However, the only written information about him was in the New Testament, and for scholars this is not sufficient to prove that he was alive at the time of Jesus. This was the case until recently, when an inscription was found at Caesarea that states the name of both Pontius Pilate and the emperor, Tiberius. This find is significant because it is the first archaeological evidence of Pontius Pilate’s existence. It is also important to note that Caesarea, being the capitol of the province at the time, would have been where Pontius Pilate both lived and held his court. Another reason why this inscription is important is because it mentions a “Tiberium.” This shows that the imperial cult, which deified the Roman emperors, had reached Judea.
Moreover, both the First and Second Revolt were linked to Caesarea. Regarding the First Revolt, it began as a conflict between the Jews and the gentiles in Caesarea. There was much tension at this time between the Jews and their Roman rulers. This was in part due to messianic expectations, but also due to resentment for Roman rule. The Jews had started a riot in the city of Caesarea against the gentiles, and the governor demanded that reparations needed to be paid. When the Jews refused, the governor decided to take the necessary funds from the temple treasury. This outraged the Jewish population and began the First Revolt. The Second Revolt can be linked to Caesarea due to an ancient synagogue found on the site. This revolt began as a result of the culmination of messianic expectations. Shimon Bar Kosova, who would become known as Bar Kochba, was a messianic figure who in 132 led many Jews to believe that he would establish a new kingdom of Israel. Apparently, this was the site where Bar Kochba had rallied some of his first followers.