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Tel Afek

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Tel Afek

Afek IMG 8277.JPG

Basic Information

Location Coastal hinterland of the Ein Afek Nature Reserve, east of Kiryat Bialik, Israel
Country Israel
City Kiryat Bialik

General Information

Open to visitors yes
Need appointment no
Handicap accessibility yes
Website http://www.parks.org.il/BuildaGate5/general2/data_card.php?Cat=~20~~800187146~Card12~&ru=&SiteName=parks&Clt=&Bur=18878773
Geographical Coordinates 32.83215,35.08841


Tel Afek, (Hebrew: תל אפק‎), also spelled Aphek, is an archaeological site located in the coastal hinterland of the Ein Afek Nature Reserve, east of Kiryat Bialik, Israel.

The site is what remains of the biblical town of Aphik, which is mentioned in the Joshua 19:30 as belonging to the Tribe of Asher. The name is apparently derived from the nearby abundant springs (אפיקים afikim in Hebrew).

Earliest known remains date from the Middle Bronze Age, when massive walls were built. The site continued to be in use during the Iron Age.

In the Hellenistic period the city expanded northwards, and grew into a large area that reached the springs, and the city continued to be in use in the Roman period.

In Crusader times, the northern area was fortified to protect the route to Nazareth. A two-story fortress still stands. A water-powered flour mill operated on the lower floor.

The Ein Afek nature reserve, declared in 1979, covers 366 dunams. An additional 300 dunams were declared in 1994. The highlights of the park include the Crusader fortress and the natural water canals and lake, which draw their waters from the year-long flowing springs of Afek, which are the source of the Naaman river.


Area A

File:Aphek, Area A Winepresses.jpg Late Bronze Age period winepresses, Area A, Tel Aphek, closely located to the Governor's Residency.

Interestingly—and significantly—the earliest winepresses discovered to date in the Southern Levant were excavated adjoining the Governor’s Residency at Tel Aphek, dated to the 13th century BCE, the reign of Ramesses II. The two winepresses (pictured, right) were plastered and possessed two treading floors (Hebrew: gat elyonah, “upper vat”) in parallel configuration extending over 6 m². Beneath and next to these, the stone-lined plastered collection vats (Hebrew: gat tahtonah, “lower vat”) could each store over 3 m³, or 3,000 litres, of pressed grape juice. Canaanite amphorae were recovered still in situ at the bottom of each pit, while a midden of grape skins, seeds and other debris was discovered adjacent to the installations [Kochavi 1981:81]. The excavator has drawn attention to the proximity of these winepresses to the Residency, their large size and the fact that ancient winepresses were normally located outside settlements amongst the vineyards suggesting that the Egyptian administration supervised the viniculturists of the Sharon closely [Kochavi 1990:XXIII].

Trade Links and Relations

File:Handle with Cypro-Minoan Inscription, Aphek.png Line drawing: Amphora handle inscribed with Cypro-Minoan Sign 38, Tel Aphek.

It is clear that Tel Aphek was a site not only at the centre of imperial administration, but also well-connected to the international trade in luxury goods, as reflected in the abundant finds of Cypriot and Mycenaean ceramics.

Illustrative of Cypro-Canaanite trade especially is a fragmentary amphora handle [Aphek 5/29277], clearly inscribed after firing with Sign 38 of the Cypro-Minoan Linear Script [Yasur-Landau and Goren 2004]. The handle was excavated from secondary deposition in Aphek Area X, Locus 2953, belonging to the very meagre Stratum X11 built over the Governor’s Residency. An extreme likelihood exists, therefore, that the object belonged to the earlier, more prosperous Stratum XI2 of the Residency itself. Given the as-yet-undeciphered nature of the script, the precise significance of the post-firing addition of a Cypro-Minoan sign must remain uncertain. At minimum the sign indicates that individuals employing Cypro-Minoan script handled the vessel from which the handle derived. Combined with petrographic analysis of the clay employed in manufacturing the amphora—pointing to an origin in or within the vicinity of Akko—the readiest reconstruction from the evidence must be that the vessel (and any companions) was manufactured in the Akko region before shipping, either to such redistribution points as Tell Abu Hawam or Tel Nami, or (more likely) to Cyprus itself (perhaps via one of these ports), where it was likely emptied of its original contents—certainly marked—before being shipped back to the Levant (now probably containing Cypriot product) and achieving final deposition at Aphek.

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