Publication of The Bronze Age and Iron Age Remains (Area X) From the Upper City of Aphek, Israel
Dr. Moshe Kochavi mkochavi@post.tau.ac.il
Mr.Yuval Gadot yuval-ga@zahav.net.il
Ms. Esther Yadin  

Tel Aviv University

Tel Aphek-Antipatris (previous name: Tell Ras el-'Ain, Israel grid: 143.168), the 30-acre site guards the Aphek Pass of the Via Maris, is located at the River Yarkon headwaters in the Sharon Plain of Israel. The site was inhabited continuously from the Chalcolithic Period to the Ottoman period. It is thus one of the most important ancient sites in Israel. The site's identification, made secure by Albright and Alt in 1923, was based on the many occurrences of the site's names both in the Bible and in Egyptian, Assyrian, and Roman-Byzantine sources. The purpose of this project is to publish the significant results of the excavations carried out under the supervision of Professor Dr. Moshe Kochavi by the Tel Aviv University Institute of Archaeology at the Upper City of Aphek in the years 1976-1985.

The Upper City will encompass the most important results of the Aphek-Antipatris excavations, obtained during the years 1976-1985 at the site's acropolis (area X). The five superimposed MB through LB palaces of area X will serve as the core of the volume, with all the additional finds from these periods treated as well. The Iron Age I remains uncovered on top of this series of palaces, which are of great importance for the study of the Late Bronze/Iron I transition in the Levant, will also be included. The importance of the projected publication, however, is more than just the completion of a report on Aphek's history and archaeology. It will clarify and shed new light on some of the most debated issues in biblical archaeology.

The excavations also revealed a MB II palace and several pottery kilns, a LBA-built tomb and two wine presses, and Iron Age private houses as well as major parts of Roman Antipatris including its cardo, forum and theater. Preliminary excavation reports of the Tel-Aviv University expedition have dealt with all the written material unearthed as well as a large part of the initial Middle Bronze Age pottery.

Two Middle Bronze Age palaces, three Late Bronze Age palaces, and the overlying Early Iron Age strata will be considered. Some unique items in this context are:

  1. A sequence of Canaanite palaces covering most of the second millennium BCE, including an Early Bronze Ib fortifications, which rank Aphek among the earliest fortified Canaanite cities.
  2. The earliest known palace of the initial MBA.
  3. The last palace, which constitutes the only final LBA complex in the country with an absolute date for its destruction. This absolute date provides a better chance for dating the various phases of the LB-IA transition.
    • Presenting the stratigraphy and architecture of the five subsequent palaces, covering most of the second millennium BCE, will shed new light on the Canaanite city-state's elite.
    • One of the only absolute dates for a late 13th century destruction is attested at Aphek's last palace, the Egyptian Residence. Sandwiched between an earlier Canaanite palace and an overlying Early Iron Age stratum, this dated destruction layer is apt to contribute a great deal to the intriguing question of the LBA-IA transition.
    • Cuneiform clay tablets unearthed by the expedition enhanced the uniqueness of the site for an archaeological- historical synthesis.