Antipatris (Tel Afek)

Antipatris (Ancient Greek: Αντιπατρίς), one of two places known as Tel Afek (Hebrew: תל אפק‎), is an archaeological site inIsrael. It was inhabited from the chalcolithic time to the late Roman period, but is named after Antipatris, a city built in the site by Herod the Great, and named in honour of his father, Antipater II of Judea. An Ottoman fortress was built in its place in the 16th century. It lays between Caesarea Maritima and Lydda, two miles inland, on the Roman road from Caesarea toJerusalem.

Tel Afek

Prior to the establishment of classic Antipatris, Tel Afek had earlier served as a fortress and major strategic points in battles between the Egyptians, Israelites and Philistines in the Bronze and Iron Age, until it fell into ruin prior to Herod’s rebuilding. Afek is mentioned in the Hebrew Bible as an organization point of Philistinesduring the struggle with Israelites.

The Bronze Age saw the construction of defensive walls, 2.5 metres (8.2 ft) to 3.5 metres (11 ft) wide, and a series of palaces. On e of these is described as an Egyptian governor residence of the 15th century BC, and within, an array of cuniform tablets were found. Philistine ware is found in the site in 12th century BC layers.

Antipatris fort

Establishment of Antipatris

Antipatris was a city built by Herod the Great, and named in honor of his father, Antipater II of Judea. It lay between Caesarea Maritima and Lydda, two miles inland, on the great Roman road from Caesarea to Jerusalem. The city was destroyed in 363 CE by an earthquake.

Ottoman Ras al-Ayn

Ottoman records indicate that a Mamluk fortress may have stood on the site. However, the Ottoman fortress was built following the publication of a firman in 1573 CE (981 H.):

“You have sent a letter and have reported that four walls of the fortress Ras al-Ayn have been built, [..] I have commanded that when [this firman] arrives you shall [..have built] the above mentioned rooms and mosque with its minaret and have the guards remove the earth outside and clean and tidy [the place].

The fortress was built to protect a vulnerable stretch of the Cairo-Damascus highway (the Via Maris), and was provided with 100 horsemen and 30 foot soldiers. The fortress was also supposed to supply soldiers to protect the hajj route. The fortress is a massive rectangular enclosure with four corner towers and a gate at the centre of the west side. The south-west tower is octagonal, while the three other towers have a square ground plan. There had also been an Arab peasant village at the site which, however, became deserted in the 1920s.


*Text taken from Wikipedia


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