Excavations at Aphek — Antipatris -- By: Anonymous

Journal: Bible and Spade (First Run)
Volume: BSP 05:3 (Summer 1976)
Article: Excavations at Aphek — Antipatris
Author: Anonymous

Excavations at Aphek — Antipatris

With an area of about 30 acres, Aphek-Antipatris is one of the largest mounds in the land of Israel. It is situated near the source of the Yarkon River and was, for this reason, called Tel Ras el-’Ain in Arabic, meaning “Mound at the Head of the Spring.” In antiquity the main international highway of the ancient Near East, the Via Maris (Way of the Sea), passed by Aphek-Antipatris. This highway ran along the coast and connected the great civilizations of Mesopotamia and Egypt. The city was important for it guarded the Yarkon Pass formed by the mountains to the east and the Yarkon River to the west. The position of the site, its size and its remains, led to its identification with Aphek of the Old Testament and Antipatris of the New Testament.

Aphek is first mentioned in the Bible as a Canaanite town conquered by Joshua (Joshua 12:18). In 1 Samuel, Aphek emerges as the northern border town of Philistia. It was from here that the Philistines waged the decisive battle at Ebenezer when the ark was captured (1 Samuel 4:1–11). It was again at Aphek that they summoned their armies to battle against King Saul at Mount Gilboa: “Now the Philistines gathered together all their armies to Aphek: and the Israelites pitched by a fountain which is in Jezreel (1 Samuel 29:1). During the period of the divided kingdom, Aphek became an Israelite town and was mentioned as a town in the region of Samaria in the Assyrian king Esarhaddon’s account of his march against Egypt in 671 B.C.

Map of Israel showing the location of Aphek-Antipatris.

View of Aphek-Antipatris. The remains of a Turkish fort are still standing on the top of the mound.

In the year 9 B.C. Herod built a new town and named it Antipatris after his father. It was by this name that the site was known for the next 1, 000 years. It is mentioned in the New Testament as being a stopping point when Paul, as a prisoner of the Romans, was taken from Jerusalem to Caesarea (Acts 23:31).

One of the startling results of the excavations is that there was an unbroken chain of urban living at the site which continued for at least 5, 000 years. “We have a site here with all the urban history of Palestine. There appear to be no gaps since the beginning of urban civilization around 3, 000 B.C.,” Dr. ...

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