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.


  1. That looks great! Say hello to my friend Christiane from Germany. Greetings from Brussels, henning

  2. Do you have some sources about Arsuf in early Islamic period (640- 1500)?