The late Baron Edmond de Rothschild was a faithful friend to all who played a role in the evolution of maritime studies in Israel. He expressed his deep interest through personal and constant involvement. In 1964, through his initiative, the Caesarea Foundation was inaugurated. He was fundamental in the establishment in Caesarea of the first diving center along the Levantine shores of the Mediterranean, staffed by the members of the Undersea Exploration Society of Israel (UESI). This became the forerunner of the Center for Maritime Studies and marked the beginning of serious underwater research in the area. It was in this diving center that the first diving courses for scientists took place - for the marine unit of the Israel Geological Survey and for the marine biologists of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. The Caesarea Diving Center became the meeting place for the volunteer divers of UESI and saw the first attempts to give underwater archaeological research its fitting multidisciplinary and international nature. World famous scholars such as "Doc" Harold Edgerton, Olivier Lenhardt, Martin Klein, Joseph Shaw, Peter Throckmorton, Alex Flinder, Nick Flemming and many others enjoyed the pioneering atmosphere of the place and the generosity of the man.

In 1978 Elisha Linder, my mentor, introduced me to Edmond. For the next 20 years the Baron unfailingly supported our excavations at the ancient harbors of Caesarea. His constant sponsorship enabled us to carry out an underwater research project unprecedented in both its scale and duration. Hundreds of scholars, students and diving volunteers from Israel and abroad continue to gather every summer to be part of this stimulating scientific research project beneath the waves.

The ongoing support of the Caesarea Foundation has been broadened in recent years to include sponsorship of the educational exhibition entitled King Herod's Dream - Caesarea on the Sea, at the Ralli Museum. The exhibition is a must-see visual introduction to this major tourist site.

It was the Baron who suggested organizing and hosting a ten-day gathering of leading scholars from around the globe at Caesarea for a high-level exchange of ideas. This special event, which occurred in 1995 and was fully funded by the Baron and his Caesarea Foundation, culminated in the publication of a prestigious volume containing over 40 scientific contributions covering all aspects of Caesarea studies from neotectonics to theology and social history. It was a very special moment when we presented the Baron with this book as a humble gift from all of us. His spirit of generosity continues even in his absence, with his foundation making a considerable contribution to the current renovation and expansion of the CMS.

It is impossible for one person to describe all of Edmond's contributions to the State of Israel, to our security and the betterment of daily life in this country. I can only express my deep sadness at the loss of a true and caring friend, a man of vision who understood and believed in our 'mad' notions and unconventional methods.

May his wife Nadine and his family, know no more sorrow.

Avner Raban

Baron Edmond de rothschild speaking at the opening of the Caesarea Diving center in may, 1965

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