Thursday, 30 July 2009

Apollonia Arsuf Day 9

We just finished our second from last day and the realisation that we are running out of time is beginning to become apparent. I've enlarged our excavation area again to reveal the inner section of the turret walls so that the surveyors have a proper allignment to follow when making a site drawing. The remaining open quadrants havn't revealed anything of major importance, apart from two tiers of a wall (Possibly Roman) that the Byzantine wall is built ontop of. We also discovered a small worked piece of bone that might have been a hairpin and is decorated at one end. 

Due to a section of one trench collapsing, I've decided to re-open the north west quadrant as part of the byzantine wall was revealed along with some interesting pottery that is out of context. After that, it's a day of cleaning and tidying the area and sectioning.


Wednesday, 29 July 2009

Apollonia Arsuf Day 8

As Christiane from Area L would say... "Dear Diary" today was almost surreal with two major developments taking place within our excavation area. The plaster wall that has caused some confusion was confirmed to be of early Arabic origins by the national park supervisor... He explained that planners thought the Arabic wall was some 50 metres to the west, and that they would now need to re-advise the city plans and location for the outer wall for this period based on our excavations.

In addition, one of our initial quadrants where we disovered a corner of the crusader wall has been excavated further with a mechanical digger, revealing the crusader city walls to a depth of roughly 7 metres and a corner turret similar to the types found at Caesaria. This has also proved different from the initial city plans for the crusader period. Firsty by the type of turret which protrudes outwards into the moat, rather than a square turret which is alligned along the moat wall. And secondly by the placement of where the city wall runs north from our tower in Area L. Due to our excavation, part of the focus for next season at Apollonia 2010 will be based at Area L and remain exposed as a tourist attraction for park visitors. All attendees within Area L should be very proud of their efforts. They have worked extremely hard and produced a text book excavation site that has certainly made a difference within the wider picture of Apollonia Arsuf.... Big thanks to Hillary, Arlene, Christiane, Claire, Francesca, Stephen, Wan, Chris and the additonal students from Israel. 

In addition, we've reached the Byzantine layer in other quadrants of Area L and have a linear Byzantine wall running underneath the Early Arabic city wall. Additional finds from today included a small coin, possibly Byzantine.

Tuesday, 28 July 2009

Apollonia Arsuf Day 7

Another day has passed in the trenches and our attendees are beginning to feel the aches of archaeology in Israel. They've fought their way through sunstroke, blisters, insect bites, swollen limbs and of course sunburn. Despite all the ailments, everyone pulled together amazingly today and managed to achieve three days worth of digging in just one day. All areas of the squares are beginning to push further down and are breaking through the early Arabic period.

I had hoped to be alot deeper by this time, but the complexity of the area required investigation into the surroundings outside of the initial 5x5 square. Finds included a small coin, possibly Byzantine, countless amphora handles and sherds, animal bones and glasses with base and neck still intact. Three more Walls have been unearthed, making the site even more complex than we initially imagined.

Monday, 27 July 2009

Apollonia Arsuf Day 6

During the weekend a couple of excursions was arranged for attendees around archaeological sites and places of historical inportance. This included a tour of the exposed aquaduct system which fed the city of caesaria built by king herod. We also toured through an underground aquaduct built by the Romans for 500 metres, wading through ice cold water. The following day, I took the overseas attendees to Caesaria and toured the ancient herodian, roman, Byzantine and crusader remains. The city contains some of the finest surviving roman and Byzantine structures and includes an ampitheatre and circus (hippodrome). 

Day 6
Today I was joined by 3 additional attendees from England and really started to push the excavation in order to try and understand the curtain Walls. We've exposed another section of a wall underneath the Arabic remains and will hopefully have them fully uncovered by conclusion of day 7 of excavations. I've closed the two remaining areas of the initial square, now making the 5x5 we started excavations on day one completely closed... apart from removing a section of the central bulk in order to understand the early Arabic fortifications. I've opened up two new areas and will focusing all efforts within the two new quadrants to trace the crusader tower foundations before end of the week. Throughout the week I've been conducting surveys of the site using a dumpy level and have been giving crash courses in it's usage for the overseas attendees.. I received the survey drawings today produced from our data along with a total station survey produced by external surveyors.


Saturday, 25 July 2009

Apollonia Arsuf Day 5

Week one is finally out of the way and area L is closed until the Monday. We've managed to remove about 1.5 metres of loose rubble and layers of sand from the north east quadrant. All the pottery is of early Arabic and Byzantine origins but we seem to be having a lack of crusader sherds at the lower locus.

I've decided to close this quadrant and concentrate efforts on the remaining areas of the square. The north west quadrant remains difficult and has compacted layers of plaster along with rubble from parts of a robbed out wall. The area includes a solid plaster wall which changes direction by 80 degrees and seems to carry on to another locus. The central area of the trench has finally been seived and the layers of burning and dark soil has now been removed ready for excavating the lower locus on Monday.

Work has now begun in the south west quadrant and already there is alot of pottery sherds and amphora handles appearing in the surface layers. The slanted plaster wall has now been identified as the early Arabic fortifications, built prior to the crusader moat and is causing some excitement. The wall indicates where the arabic curtain wall turns and shows that the crusaders made use of existing fortifications by following the allignment and usage of some of the existing defences. In the evening, we returned to apollonia for a live jazz concert in the castle and watched the sun set over the battlements and hide behind the horizon of the med.


Thursday, 23 July 2009

Apollonia Arsuf Day 4

Day 4 is when the archaeology really begins to get complex. We've confirmed that the large slanted wall is all one connecting structure sitting ontop of the crusader tower walls, and that the plaster walls are possibly islamic and later in origin.

Ive opened up another section to better understand the towers relationship to the later buildings from another locus and will be focusing my efforts to this area on friday.

Another lamp was also discovered today, along with mass amounts of pottery sherds and handles. Both of which are crusader in origin.

Apollonia Arsuf Day 3

Day 3 started off alot better and I began by giving a site briefing to all the new attendees working in my area and defined a few guidelines. I split up the quadrant teams based on their strengths which improved the overall efficiency and broke down the language barriers.

The archaeology began to be quite complex and several features and walls apparent. The first, and most impressive being a large plaster wall found in two areas of my square that are slanted at a 75 degree angle and may actually connect. The second, a large plaster wall which seems to be part of a larger structure and thirdly a small tortoise who stumbled into our trench. (Named Goldstar)

The plaster walls are found in a higher locus than the crusader walls and may have used the crusader tower as foundations for a later construction. My plan is to remove part of the bulk the following day and see whether the large slanted walls are all part of a singular building.

There is also a charred layer of burning that I plan to seive to ascertain whether there are any crusader remains left over from a destruction layer.

Later in the evening, Dr Oren took me and a colleague out for dinner to discuss certain projects and and future collaboration for WKAT attendees at Apollonia Arsuf. We finished the evening at an exclusive club called Oxford near Herzlia dancing and drinking the night away to the strongest vodka i've ever tasted!!

Apollonia Arsuf Day 2

Day two started off with a few teething problems but eventually after the dust settled the excavation got underway. We were joined by seven students from the Tel Aviv Institute of Archaeology so allocation of workload meant that everyone had to work in rotations. (Total of 12 students working under me in a 5x5 area)

I took the decision to quadrant the 5X5 square as the proportion of new diggers assigned to me was more than expected and this meant that I could only allocate everyone into specific locations to ensure that people could work safely.

We excavated in a new locus (context layer) and dug roughly 3 feet of topsoil out of the upper layers. Within just a few hours an early islamic lamp was discovered. Other discoveries included Byzantine sherds, Byzantine handles and Crusader/Islamic pottery.

After a much needed shower we headed off to the beach to relax and soak up the sun. Whilst swimming I managed to add to my list of Israeli injuries from last season; a nasty cut on my foot and an intimate encounter with a jellyfish. Despite three stings on my legs, I was first in the pub and ordering a pint of Calsberg!

After dinner we ended the evening at the beach again, sitting at the tides edge letting the water rush between our feet. I found myself thinking alot of my previous experiences in Israel, and the moments and memories of the past.

Monday, 20 July 2009

Apollonia Arsuf Day 1

Day one of excavations and already the archaeology at Apollonia Arsuf is proving to be quite exciting and complex. My team from the WKAT has been given responsibility over AREA L which is found in the south east corner of the city. It contains the largest of the defensive towers built along the curtain wall and overlooks the large city moat. Other attendees are found at the northern tip of the national park, outside of the curtain wall.

After removing the topsoil, already three solid walls are beginning to appear. Two walls run almost in parallel and are W7203 and W7205. The third wall is believed to also be party of W7205 but its early days.

Ive created a 5x5 square and placed a "bulk" through the centre to give a proper understanding of the context layers found within the area. This has created three different contexts already that are assigned L7203, L7202 and L7201. L7203 has a small quantity of Byzantine pottery but already some crusader glass has been found. Also discovered are several animal remains and burning within the soil.

Within five minutes of digging, we discovered a coin in L7202, but as yet this has not been identified to which period. The area includes several byzantine amphora handles along with blue and green Crusader pottery sherds.

L7201 has the most amount of pottery with an entire bucket full of byzantine pottery and some examples of brown glossed crusader pottery. So.... with day one out the way, its an evening of swimming in the warm mediteranean sea to ease those aching muscles and relax the mind.... ready for another day of heavy digging for all those WKATs... I should point out, that the excavation is made all that easier thanks to Ilan and the picnic hamper of chilled Goldstar he's bringing to the dig site :)

Monday, 6 July 2009

Apollonia Arsuf - History of Excavations

Seventeen seasons of excavations have been carried out so far at Apollonia-Arsuf, under the direction of Prof. Israel Roll of the Institute of Archaeology of the Tel-Aviv University.

The first season was carried out, in 1977, in three areas located inside and in the middle of the walled city (B-D). It was a salvage excavation on behalf of the Israel Department of Antiquities, which lasted for almost eight months and focused on Area B, located opposite the city gate.

Consecutive compound structures were found there on both sides of a narrow street oriented north to south which made part of an overall urban scheme carried out during the reign of the Umayyad caliph Abd al-Malik (685-705 C.E.). The entire complex served as a market street and the structures on both sides of the street were used as shops and food-stalls. During the second and third seasons (1980-1981) the north-east corner rooms of the Roman villa were uncovered in the south, outside and below the Medieval city-wall. A trial trench was opened upward, towards the city-wall, which provided a clear sequence of strata, reflecting the main occupation periods, from Roman times until the Mamluk destruction.

In 1982, the status of the excavations at Apollonia-Arsuf changed. From that point on, it became an academic excavation, on behalf of the Institute of Archaeology of Tel Aviv University. It also became a study excavation for the students of classical archaeology from the Department of Classics. As the excavation became an academic enterprise, the areas of excavation were not imposed upon us any more, as was the case in the previous salvage excavations.

We were now able to choose the working areas according to criteria of professional interest. At the same time, we also realized that the time had come to formulate a "strategy of excavation" at Apollonia-Arsuf. Thus far, work had been carried out in the north (Areas A-C, in 1950) and Area F, in the centre and in the east of the walled town (Areas B-D), and in the south (Area E).

To attain an overall archaeological picture on all four cardinal points of the site, an excavation was needed in the west. Therefore, a new area was excavated, inside and close to the western city-wall (Area H), from 1982-1984 (the fourth, fifth and sixth seasons), with the support of the Walworth Barbour American International School in Kefar Shemaryahu.

The early levels of occupation in Area H belong to the Persian period and above them, badly preserved walls of structures from the Hellenistic, Byzantine and Medieval periods were uncovered. When the excavations reached the lower end of the city-wall, we found that in Area H too, as in Area E, the wall was built on a deliberately laid bed of beach sand.

As we noted the same phenomenon in some of the walls of the market street in Area B, it became clear that we were in evidence of a peculiar method of wall-bedding that was used extensively in Early Islamic period Arsuf. This method seems to have the dual purpose of attenuating and absorbing shocks from earthquakes, while also allowing for the efficient drainage of rainwater in order to preserve the walls.

The next four seasons of excavations (the seventh, eighth, ninth, and tenth seasons) were carried out from 1990 through 1993, with the support of the Municipality of Herzliya. During this time, the entire eastern wing of the Roman villa has been uncovered. The fill above it included a substantial number of round Roman lamps of the type current in 2nd and 3rd century C.E., from which the usual pagan and erotic figurative scenes were intentionally broken away. This act, of which we were already aware from previous seasons, seemed to be the work of monotheistic believers, of either Samaritan or Jewish faith.

The eleventh season of excavations took place in the summer of 1996, this time as a contract excavation, initiated by the legal owner of the entire area of Apollonia-Arsuf, the Land Administration of Israel. The request was to undertake a series of trial excavations in the area that extends from the Crusader city-gate (Area J) to the east, with the purpose of determining the maximum extension of the ancient site, and defining its eastern limits.

In Area J, excavations revealed two construction phases of the city-gate, both from the Crusader period. In Area K, the only element of the Byzantine church preserved in its entirety has been uncovered - its underground reservoir. In the rest of the expanse, up to ca. 350 m. to the east of the city-wall, 28 trial trenches were opened, by means of mechanical tools. In one of the trial trenches, four burials were located, of Early Byzantine times. As these burials were necessarily located outside the city, their discovery provides the first tangible proof regarding the limits of the settled area of Apollonia in Late Antiquity. This area can be estimated today at ca. 280 dunams.

From 1998 to 2000, during the twelfth through the fourteenth seasons, the excavations were organized as a joint venture of the Institute of Archaeology of Tel Aviv University and the Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul of Porto Alegre, Brazil. The Municipality of Herzliya provided full support. During the first term of 1998 work was carried out only in Area E, and was focused on the structure of the Roman period.

The second term was invited and funded by the Municipality of Herzliya as a first step towards preparing the site as a public archaeological park. Therefore, the excavations focused initially on fully uncovering the Roman structure in the south (Area E), and then on the large-scale unearthing of the Crusader castle in the north (Area F).

In Area E, the entire Roman structure was fully uncovered. This permitted clear identification of it as a typical Roman villa of the peristyle type. Moreover, as the western facade of the dwelling faces towards the sea, it seems clear that this was a villa maritima. Such a villa could belong to a foreign rich merchant, or to a local magnate who seemed to undergo Romanization. In a later phase the entries to several rooms were intentionally blocked in a rather negligent manner, which seems to indicate that several of the living rooms had been turned into storage rooms for more modest owners. Then, the whole complex suffered a sudden and violent destruction, which was apparently caused by a devastating earthquake, which occurred in 113/114 C.E., or 127/128.

In the Crusader castle (Area F), large scale excavations promoted by Parks and Nature Authority were undertaken during many months of the years 1998, 1999 and 2000 and practically all the components of the Castle's latest phase have been uncovered. These include the following elements described from the inside outward: 1) a central irregular courtyard surrounded by broad halls ; 2) the main pentagonal fortification complex, including a gate protected by two semi-circular towers with an additional semi-circular tower on each side in the east, and a donjon and two square corner towers in the west ; 3) an external fortification with an outline largely corresponding to that of the main fortification but at a lower elevation and with a wider opening ; 4) a broad, deep moat bounded by an outer retaining wall ; 5) a system of vaulted halls and retaining walls along the cliff at the western facade of the fortress, which largely collapsed falling to the base of the cliff ; 6) a port facility, of which the foundations of two side breakwaters (northern and southern) have been preserved.

Early in 2002, the last large scale season of excavations was conducted in the Crusaders fortress (Area F), focusing primarily upon the space east and south of the fortress gate between the main fortifications and their outer walls. During the same year, excavation in the southern part of the site (Area E) extended and deepened the exposure of a row of the Early Islamic rooms abutting the city wall from within. These rooms were restored during the Crusader period and served first as dwellings, then as craft work shops and drainage area. Finally, looking toward the Mamluk siege, the walls of the rooms were leveled and the space between them filled with earth and stones up to the height of the tops of the truncated walls. A thick plaster floor abutting the fortification wall was laid over the entire area. Thus, a firm inner rampart was added to the fortification while at the same time providing direct access to the wall for the first time. This did not prevent the site's conquest and destruction by the Mamluks, signs of which were abundant in the upper layer throughout the area.

In 2003 and 2004, excavation was renewed in the southern part of the city, in a new area extending east of the Roman villa (Area P). At the bottom of the excavation in the north of the area were found 2.70 m wide foundations constructed of field stones held together with mortar, penetrating deep into a Byzantine hamra layer. The robber trench above the foundations is clearly visible, indicating that they supported an ashlar wall that was robbed in its entirety, apparently part of a monumental structure of the Roman period. Inside the fortifications were found a group of thick-walled grenade-shaped pottery vessels. Such vessels served as incendiary devices of the class known as "Greek fire". As they were found near the city wall in a context associated with the end of the Early Islamic period, they would appear to have been utilized by the Muslim defenders of Arsuf against the abortive Crusader siege of 1099.

Friday, 3 July 2009

Apollonia Arsuf - Introduction

Apollonia-Arsuf is located on a sandstone cliff overlooking a natural haven on the shore of the modern town of Herzliya, some 15 km. north of Tel-Aviv. More than a century of research and two decades of excavations are revealing its long and interesting history. A modest coastal settlement in proto-historical and biblical times, it became the only maritime centre of the southern Sharon Plain from the late 6th century B.C.E. until the mid-13th century C.E.

The earliest settlement there was a Phoenician foundation of the Persian period, which was confined to the cliff's western edge (areas G and H). Its name was probably Resheph. As the Greeks used to identify Resheph with Apollo, the town's name was changed in Hellenistic times to Apollonia. In Roman times the city was expanded to the south (area E) where a well planned and carefully built villa maritima from the turn of the 1st to 2nd cent. C.E. has been uncovered. Following the complete collapse of the structure caused by a devastating earthquake, the area was covered with refuse from surrounding (yet unexcavated) buildings, which included large quantities of imported ware from the main ceramic production centers of the Eastern Mediterranean, Italy and North Africa.

In the Byzantine period, the city, which apparently was unfortified, reached its greatest prosperity and largest expansion, up to ca. 70 acres. It emerged as the chief commercial, industrial and maritime center of the entire Southern Sharon Plain. That large urban center included a commercial area in the center (areas B-D), a manufacturing area in the North (areas a-c) where oil, wine and glass were produced, other manufacturing installations in the South (area E and N) and in the west (areas G and H), and an anchorage along the shore. In those times, the name of the city was changed again to Sozousa, and it became an episcopal see of Palaestina prima. Three of its bishops are recorded in official lists of the Ecumenical Councils of the 5th and 6th cent. C.E., and their seat seems to have been the impressive Byzantine church, the remains of which were found in the southeast of the site (area K).

The Muslims got control over the Byzantine city peacefully, in ca. 640 C.E. and surrounded only a part of it (ca. 23 acres) with a fortified wall. The Crusaders captured the town in 1101 C.E., restored its fortifications and built new ones (in areas J and L), and erected in the north a formidable castle (area F). That double stronghold was captured in 1265 C.E. by the Mamluk sultan Baybars, razed to the ground and left in ruins ever since.

In 2004 the site of Apollonia-Arsuf was formally recognized as one of the 100 most endangered world monuments by the World Monuments Fund. This naturally emphasizes the importance of continuing archaeological excavation and conservation.

In 2009, under the Site Direction of Dr. Oren Tal -Tel Aviv University and collaboration with K. Galor - Brown University.... Members from the UK expedition team - Comprising of attendees from the West Kent Archaeological Trust and the global internet site will be excavating Area L.

UK Team consists of Markus Milligan, Claire Taylor, Chris Luche, Wan-fung Yeung, Stephen Russell, Ivo Fox Cooper and Francesca Louise Adams.