?, Then and Now

Let’s do this post a little differently than the previous ones, with a little reader interaction.  Instead of me describing the photo, I’ll give you the opportunity.  Write in the comments below as much as you can about this picture, including its name(s), major features visible, and anything else that indicates why this photograph is useful today for understanding the geography and history of ancient Israel.

Aerial photo with stones, dirt, trees, water

The answer I deem best wins the Northern Palestine CD, volume 1 of The American Colony and Eric Matson Collection, with 600 high-resolution photos of Acco, Benjamin, Caesarea, Caesarea Philippi, Capernaum, Ephraim, Galilee Hill Country, Haifa, Huleh, Jaffa, Jezreel, Mount Carmel, Mount Hermon, Mount Tabor, Nazareth, Samaria, Sharon, Shechem, Sea of Galilee, Tabgha, Tel Aviv, and Tiberias.

P.S. Searching on the Library of Congress website won’t really help you, because the name of this place is not given in the description.


12 thoughts on “?, Then and Now

  1. Aphek, Antipatris

    AKA: "Tel Afeq, Tel Aphek, Tell Ras el-'Ain, Abu Butrus, Aphik, Apuki, Apuku, Arethusa, 'Auja, Binar Bashi, Fik (?), Le Toron aux fontaines sourdes, Pegae, Ras el-'Ain"

    You can read about the major features here:

    "Aphek has always been a strategic fortress because of its geographical location. It lies at the headwaters of the Yarkon River, which blocks traffic on the coast and forces the International Coastal Highway through a narrow funnel between the river and the mountains. The two coastal routes south of Aphek are forced to converge here and continue on to Mount Carmel. The strategic nature of this site continued through the Turkish period, and the fort pictured at left was built by the Ottoman ruler Suleiman the Magnificent."


    "Antipatris, one of two places known as Tel Afek, was a city (re)built by Herod the Great, and named in honour 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."

    Can be viewed via Google Earth here:
    32°06'16.13"N 34°55'48.05"E

    The fortress visible in the background is Ras al-Ayn, the Ottoman fortress at the head of the river Awja.

    Biblical references here:
    Josh. 12:18
    Josh. 13:4
    Josh. 19:30
    1Sam. 4:1
    1Sam. 29:1
    1Kings 20:26
    1Kings 20:30
    2Kings 13:17
    Acts 23:31

    The apostle Paul was captive here overnight (Acts 23:31) while being taken to Gov. Felix in Caesarea by order of Claudius Lysias.

    Excavation History:
    From http://www.danny-the-digger.com
    "Excavations at the site b M.Kochavi reavealed remains of an Egyptian style governor Mansion, very rich in finds, including important cuneiform tablets. In the beginning of the Ottoman period (1572-4) a fortress was built over the egyptian remains, to monitor the important road and water source. It was named "Pinar bashi" ("Head of the springs" in Turkish). "

  2. Aphek/Antipatris
    The Crusader fortress is the same as what can be seen today.
    This picture helps geography today possibly because the water in the fields from the Yarkon is not like this today. Today tons of eucalyptus trees help for soaking up the water and the water is probably regulated.
    You can also see the land is raised a little and discoloration around the fortress maybe some indication of previous civilization(Egyptian governor's residence, roman road, odium later found).
    It also guards a route.

    P.S. I clicked on the picture to be able to see it in a bigger view and when I did that it labeled the site in my tab toolbar. Bummer, but the rest of the info is from memory.

  3. From http://www.tau.ac.il/humanities/archaeology/projects/proj_past_aphek.html :

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

    The most important results of the Aphek-Antipatris excavations relate to the Upper City Wall, at the site's acropolis (Area X). The five superimposed Middle Bronze through Late Bronze 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 Age-Iron Age 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 an MB II palace and several pottery kilns, an LB built tomb and two wine presses, and IA 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 MB pottery….

    I, too, am guilty of finding the name upon enlarging the photo. But I enjoyed learning about the place. Mark that on my to-visit list.

    Michael Eliyahou

  4. This is ancient Aphek (renamed Antipatris by Herod the Great) in the Sharon Plain, about 10 miles east of the Mediterranean Sea. It is an arial shot looking east.

    Based on the quality of the photo, existence of roads, and developed agriculture, I would place it sometime in the 1960s. A few notable features:

    *We really get a sense of the elevation and steep slopes of the city above its surrounding territory.

    *We have a good view of the towers and perimeter of the Ottoman fortress dating to the 16th century. The site looks much different since excavations were done in the 1970s.

    *We also gain an appreciation for the vast springs and marshes at the headwaters of the Yarkon River, which extends all the way west to the Mediterranean Sea, making ancient travel along the coast impossible.

    Because of its elevation and proximity to marshland, it's no wonder Aphek was a strategic city in ancient times for both trade and military exploits. Coastal travelers converged here on their way north, south, or even east into the Samaritan Hill Country. Armies like the Philistines gathered here to launch attacks deeper into the mainland (1 Sam. 4:1; 29:1).

    This is a great shot that speaks volumes about an important ancient city.

  5. For some reason, I didn't expect this to start off so quickly. But this may well have occurred even if I hadn't erred in not renaming the file.

    Michael S. – you were first and provided the most sources.

    Mindy – your comment about the lack of water in the area today is a primary value of this photo.

    Michael E. – you cited the most scholarly source

    Stephen – your description is closest to what mine would have been, and without quoting others

    MGVH – just when I thought everything had been said, you impressed not only with getting the same perspective on Google Earth, but with some cool technology that really illustrated the difference.

    All – email me ([email protected]) your mailing address and I will send you the CD. If you already have it, choose another one you would like. Thanks for making this a fun little experiment.

  6. Not much more I can add other than to say, I don't live far from here. The Aphek fortress is near Petah Tikvah and Rosh Haayin, east of Tel Aviv. You can drive there (route 483) or take the #7 bus from Petah Tikvah. I don't think anyone else mentioned that! 😀 LOL

  7. Well I hadn't a clue where it was but I see from all your devious readers that they have found out by digging into the phot's properties. I shall now visit the site mtself!

  8. In the centre ground in this picture is Tell Aphek-Antipatris. Its previous name was Tell Ras el-'Ain. It is a 30-acre site that guards the Aphek Pass of the Via Maris, and is located at the Yarkon River headwaters in the Sharon Plain. Samuel's Ebenezer stone should be somewhere around here I believe. Has anybody ever found it?

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