Archive for the ‘Ancient History’ Category

Jaffa: From Egyptian Basket Cases to Napoleon’s Backfired Plan

July 23, 2013

It’s difficult to throw a rock in Israel and not hit a site that is deeply steeped in history. Such is the city of Jaffa (Joppa), which dates back to the Neolithic Period around 7500 BC. Jaffa is first mentioned in an Egyptian tale now known as The Taking of Joppa from around 1440 BC. This letter describes how Thutmose III’s general, Djehuty infiltrated the city by hiding his soldiers in baskets and passing said baskets off as gifts to the governor. Jaffa again makes Egyptian headlines in the Amarna letters, written between 1388 and 1332 BC. Ramses II even had a fort here in the 13th century.

Jaffa, with Andromeda's Rock

Jaffa, with Andromeda’s Rock

Around the 13th century, Israel appeared on the scene. Joshua 19:46 tells us that the tribe of Dan placed its borders against Japho. But, in the 12th century, the Sea People (remember our friends the Philistines?) leave a great destruction layer in the city’s stratigraphy. It is around this time and place the Aegean myth arises of Perseus’ rescue of Andromeda from the clutches of the spiteful gods. Tradition has it that he swept her off her feet at the port of Jaffa. Later on, Huram, king of Tyre, would send Solomon cedars of Lebanon through the Jaffa port for the building of the temple. However, the port city never returned to Israelite control. The invading Assyrians placed Jaffa under the protection of Ashkelon, until it came under Phoenician control in the Persian Empire. During the Assyrian occupation, an opinionated prophet named Jonah took a notion to escape an omniscient God by using Jaffa as a jumping off point in a trip to Tarshish.

Downtown Jaffa

Downtown Jaffa

Jaffa spent the better part of the Hellenistic period in a tug of war between the Ptolemaic and Seleucid empire. After a bit of destruction by the Maccabees, it would find itself in the hands of Herod, then Cleopatra, then Herod again. By the New Testament period, things had settled down a bit. Peter was called to Joppa to return the faithful Tabitha to life. While he was there, in the house of Simon the tanner, Cornelius sent for him from Caesarea Maritima.

Market at Jaffa by Gustav Bauernfeind, 1887

Market at Jaffa by Gustav Bauernfeind, 1887

Jaffa clung to history for years to come, surviving captures, recaptures, and destructions to prevent captures and recaptures (the Crusaders and Arabs tended towards that habit). Napoleon even took a crack at it 1799, until the bubonic plague ended that endeavor. It wasn’t until the 1950s that everyone got their act together and unified Jaffa and Tel Aviv into the Tel Aviv-Yafo that we know and love today.

Jaffa in the Evening

Jaffa in the Evening

Project #2: Vagabonding in Israel for 40 Days (or So)

July 22, 2013
Picture of the temple mount from a south view.  You may have to click to see the larger image, but from left to right you can see the Temple Mount, with the Old City Walls below it, the Kidron Valley, and then the Mount of Olives (green clump of trees on the right).  This shot was from June 14th, on a field trip/break day from the dig.

Picture of the Temple Mount from a south view. You may have to click to see the larger image, but from left to right you can see the Temple Mount, with the Old City walls below it, the Kidron Valley, and then the Mount of Olives (green clump of trees on the right). This shot was from June 14th, on a field trip/break day from the dig.

So you may remember from our first post from back in June, as we ramped up the blog again, we had a few “projects” coming up.  Digging in Ashkelon was #1, vagabonding in Israel for about a month is #2.

How did this project develop?  Project #1 is part of a larger endeavor, which will keep us here in Israel until December (more on that later, Project #3).  Project #2 is the in-between time of projects 1&3, about 40 days.

We faced the question of what to do with those 40 days.  Round-trip plane tickets home?  Sounds logical, but as we looked at that price, the question became, “Could we stay in-country for that or less, and visit the major sites in Israel relevant to the Biblical text?” This would be the ancient cities and tells (ancient mounds), not just popular tourist sites, although some of them are.  A little number crunching indicated that it would be close, assuming we used small hotels, hostels, and perhaps even a Bedouin tent :), and in general, lived life on the cheap.

While we dearly love our families, and desire greatly to see you all soon, you know the adventurous spirits we are. Project # 2 it is.

So, while the sun sets on the Leon Levy Expedition to Ashkelon, the sun rises on explorative vagabonding in Israel.

Sunset on the ancient seaport beach of Ashkelon.

Sunset on the ancient seaport beach of Ashkelon.

Hopefully, we will be able to keep you more up to date with Project #2, as our schedule will be a little more flexible and not quite so intense.

Ashkelon through the Ages, Part II

June 25, 2013

We left off last time with the history of the city of Ashkelon in the Persian occupation. This only occurred after the city had remained mostly abandoned for about 50 years following Nebuchadnezzar’s destruction. For awhile, they lived happily, burying dogs and digging pits to infuriate archaeologists. Eventually, though, a fabulous Greek by the name of Alexander swept through the Levant and incorporated Ashkelon into his magnificent empire. This began the Hellenistic period of Ashkelon’s life, marked mostly by a change of pottery and a rise in Grecian cultic practices. The Ashkelonites loved the Attic pottery so much that they began running a fairly blatant counterfeit business, selling knockoff Atticware.

Roman Theater, Ashkelon

Roman Theater Built over Hellenistic Fortifications, Ashkelon

But, as Alexander’s empire crumbled, and the Maccabean Revolt passed, the Hasmonean kingdom received Ashkelon for its own, and the formerly Philistine city was in the hands of the Israelites. As Rome rose to power, Ashkelon maintained a form of independence. Cleopatra VII was fond of the city, as it was of her. It welcomed her with open arms when she fled there for refuge for a time, and received a coin minted in her honor. The city was eventually absorbed into the Roman Republic at around 63 BC. In 30 BC, the Idumaean king, Herod the Great, beautified Ashkelon–as was his wont–adding baths and fountains, and his usual enormous pillars.

Byzantine Basilica, Ashkelon

Byzantine Basilica, Ashkelon

Rome faded, and her remnant, the Byzantine Empire took her place. Byzantium ramped up the religion, and even created a map for religious pilgrims called the Madaba Map–featuring such sites as Jerusalem, Bethlehem, and even…Ashkelon. In time, the crusaders came to drive the heathen from the holy sites. A mild fiasco ensued when the Egyptian Fatimid army holed up at Ashkelon and conducted raids against the Kingdom of Jerusalem. The crusaders naturally retaliated, sometimes effectively, sometimes not. Eventually though, in 1191 AD, Saladin leveled the city to prevent the crusaders from regaining a healthy foothold there. The Richards of England renovated it, but only to have it knocked down again in 1270 when the Egyptian Mamluk sultan Baybars decided enough was enough. Ashkelon laid low for the next 400 or so years, disguised as Majdal, until 1953, when it again took back its name and developed into the bustling vacation city it is today.

Crusader Arch, Ashkelon

Crusader Arch, Ashkelon

To summarize, here’s a quick timeline:

Canaanite — 2000-1150 BC

Philistine — 1150-604 BC

Babylonian Destruction — 604 BC

Persian — 604-332 BC

Greek — 332-63 BC

Roman– 63 BC-330 AD

Byzantine — 330-1453 AD

Crusader — 1099-1191 AD

Islamic — 1187-1270 AD

Ottoman to Modern Ashkelon — 1270-Present

Modern Ashkelon from Tel Ashkelon

Modern Ashkelon from Tel Ashkelon

Ashkelon through the Ages, Part I

June 18, 2013

Part of the fun of archaeology is watching history rewind itself through the layers–because, how will you get to the oldest stuff if you don’t dig out the newest stuff first? At Ashkelon, we’re fairly certain of what the oldest layer is, and how its history seems to have transpired.

Canaanite Gate

Canaanite Gate, Ashkelon

The earliest significant occupation appears to date from the third millennium (2000s) BC. This is often referred to as the Canaanite occupation, which manifests itself most notably in the monumental Canaanite gate–a magnificent 2-story arched gate leading into what was once Canaanite Ashkelon–and the iconic silver calf shrine. During the Canaanite occupation, the people seemed to live in relative prosperity, while maintaing a strained relationship with its neighbor Egypt, evidenced in the simpering letters from the city ruler to Pharaoh. In Genesis 21:22-34, Abraham interacts with these Canaanites when he makes a treaty between him and Abimelech.

Shrine of the Silver Calf

Canaanite Shrine of the Silver Calf, Found at Ashkelon

It is a fascinating realization that history does not occur in a vacuum: rather, history is the interplay of many cultures and many people. A decision in a far-away land may eventually have an impact on another place. Such was the case with Ashkelon. As far west as Spain and as far east as the Levant, a branch of the Mycenaeans landed in search of new homes. Soon, Egypt was invaded by a group known as the Sea People. On the Merenptah Stele, Pharaoh Merenptah details his defeat of the Sea People, driving them out of the land. Having been repulsed from the rich Nile Delta, they tried their luck further up the coast and soon became masters of the fertile Levantine coastline. Here they carried out a booming trade, since they were situated on the greatest trade routes–goods from as far away as Babylon and Cyprus passed through the business-savvy hands of the Ashkelonites. Ashkelon rose in importance, until it became a principle city of the Philistine pentapolis. There are many references to Philistine Ashkelon in the Bible, from Samson’s clothes raid to many dark curses, promising that the Philistines would not rule there forever.

Philistine Baboon Idol

Philistine Baboon Idol, Found at Ekron

Sure enough, in 604 BC, a young king had just taken the throne in Babylon, and new king Nebuchadnezzar wasted no time in finishing the job his father had started. As he had swept up from Egypt to claim his throne, his accompanying army laid out a swath of conquest all about them. As we know, in 605 BC, Jerusalem was swept up in this conquering blitz to begin the period of captivity. But the Jews were not the only people affected by this rapidly expanding empire. As though presenting a preview of coming attractions, Nebuchadnezzar destroyed Ashkelon, leaving an astounding layer of destruction–pots, walls, grains, and bodies of all sorts, all placed as though the culture of that day were simply frozen in time. No one had time to clean, throw out their garbage, or finish cooking dinner before their city was reduced to a layer of ash and burnt material.

After Babylon came and went, the Persians exerted their gentle influence. Ashkelon rose from its ashes and blossomed once more into a bustling port town. Fish paste, grain, and wine from Judea all passed through the busy market. Around this time, the Ashkelonites created one of our first pet cemetaries, ritually burying thousands of domestic dogs in a designated part of the town.

Dog Burial

Dog Burial at Ashkelon, Photo Courtesy of Elsevier BV (c) 2013

Project #1: Archaeological Dig at Ashkelon, Israel

June 14, 2013

Rebekah posted a few days ago about an upcoming adventure.  I look at this more as a project, actually.  We have three projects coming soon, of which this is the first.  We thought these projects might interest you, so here we are.

First off, our apologies for the misleading last post.  We truly intended to continue posting continuing content concerning history, culture, art, nature, and such.  We’ve been busy since the last trip and we just could not make the time for it (as we were busy with these projects, among other things of life).

So, what’s the project?  Let’s say you are greatly interested in ancient history and archaeology, particularly in the timeframe of Biblical settings. What is one of the best ways to learn about this history and archaeology?  Rebekah and I asked this question many months ago and the answer landed us (figuratively and literally) on the coast of modern day Israel, just a few days ago. 

This summer we are participating in an archaeological dig, the Leon Levy Expedition to Ashkelon.  Ashkelon is an ancient city mentioned many times in the scriptures.  One of these first mentions is Judges 14:19, when Samson slew 30 men of Ashkelon for their garments.  Ashkelon is an ancient site that was inhabited from the Middle Bronze Age (~2000 B.C.) to the time of the Crusaders.  It has a history from many peoples and cultures who have touched and inhabited this city for many years.  The core inhabitants and conquering nations of Ashkelon include the Canaanites,  Philistines, Babylonians, Persians, Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Muslims, and finally, the Crusaders.  This spans a time from the early 12th century B.C. to the 12th century A.D.

While most of the Biblical activity and mentions of Ashkelon are associated with the Canaanites and Philistines, the city is also a wealth of information for the other nations, as these well known nations had major influences on Ashkelon, just as they played a major role in Bible history.  Information gleaned from this site can help us understand the governments, people, and cultural context of these nations.  This helps us understand how and why they appear in the scriptures and the historical backdrop they help provide.

On archaeological digs, the areas you are excavating are divided into “grids.” Ashkelon is a large site, consisting of about 150 acres, divided into 100 grids.  Being so large, active excavation squares may be quite a distance apart.  Yesterday, Rebekah was working in grid 38, which has had some famous finds over the past few years.  She has spent the past few days excavating a Late Bronze Age courtyard, an Iron Age destruction layer, and a Middle Bronze age Philistine room.  So far, she has uncovered mono- and bichrome Philistine pottery (monochrome is the just-off-the-ship, Grandma’s best pottery; and bichrome is  a later painted form).  She and her digging partner have also found weights, beads, and various stone tools.


I am working in Grid 51 (which some like to refer to as Area 51).  Yesterday, I was working on removing an “occupational layer floor.”  Some layers are that of destruction or abandonment, but an occupational floor is a room where people have once lived and worked.  A destruction or abandonment layer may exist on top of this, but during the occupied time, you can see what the inhabitants left behind on the floor, such as our Persian era floor (538-330 B.C.) that contained pottery and bone fragments.  Pottery is heavily used in dating layers, but it also can tell us how homes are furnished, how they cooked and stored food, and more.   Bone can also tell us many things, such as the peoples diet and sacrificial practices. 



New adventures…

June 7, 2013

…coming soon.


Avenches: A Rainy Day with Swiss Romans

October 4, 2012

Switzerland is a beautiful country, with rolling hills blending into majestic, wild mountains. The farmland is fertile and the climate in the lowlands is temperate, dotted with clear lakes and glacier-fed rivers. And with such mountains surrounding the country, the passes become strategic. Put all of these features together in an area, and you have the perfect location for a conquering nation to establish a colony.

Such as the Romans.

Around 500 BC, a tribe of Celts, the Helvetii, settled in Switzerland. In 58 BC, a young, upwardly-mobile Roman general named Julius Caesar conquered the Helvetii and absorbed the tribe into the empire. As germanic tribes invaded Helvetica and began posing a threat to this northern territory, Augustus Caesar (27-14 BC) sent the Helvetians back home to defend the borders. A city was established named Aventicum (after the goddess Aventica), which expanded as Tiberius (14-37 AD) sent more support to the northern borders. The city thrived and swelled with a population of around 20,000 under Claudius (41-54 BC), who established a trade route through the area. Tacitus tells us it was the capital of Helvetica in 69 AD, thanks to Vespasian, who grew up in Aventicum and made it a Roman colony.

Rome She Wolf

Roman She-Wolf in the Roman Museum, Avenches

This was a typical Roman city, with all the normal features: two theaters, baths, an imperial cult temple, a temple to Mercury, a forum, a geometric residential area, aqueducts–all tucked behind a protective Roman wall featuring 73 watchtowers. Gladiators fought in the amphitheater against each other, bears, wolves, and lynxes. People lived and died, their families building memorials to the dead. All the difference was, instead of building with glistening marble, they mostly used native limestone and Bündner schist (black rock with white quartz found in the Alpine region).

Golden Bust Emperor Marcus Aurelius Avenches

Golden Bust of Marcus Aurelius Found at the Imperial Temple in Avenches

When Rome fell, Germanic tribes moved in. The walls were repaired in Medieval times and more towers were built. Eventually, the Latin name took on a French flavor and became Avenches. Today, it is about 1 1/2 hours from Bern. The ruins are open to the public and the artifacts are displayed in the Medieval tower-turned-museum that overlooks the amphitheater.

Roman Theater Avenches Aventicum

Roman Amphitheater in Aventicum

Thus, on a drizzly, cloudy day, we took a train and found ourselves in the little town of Avenches. First was the museum, which gave us a great insight into the daily life of “northern Romans.” There were three particularly interesting finds: The gold bust of Marcus Aurelius (ca. 80 AD) from the temple and the remains of a statue of Agrippina the Elder, Augustus’ granddaughter, Tiberius’ adopted granddaughter, Germanicus’ wife, and mother of a den of vipers, including Emperor Caligula (37-41 AD, guy tried to make his horse a consul) and Empress Agrippina the Younger, wife of Claudius and mother of Nero. The last is a funerary stele dedicated to Pompeia Gemella,the “educatrix of the emperor.” Many historians believe this “emperor” was none other than Titus, who would go on to level Jerusalem in 70 AD before being crowned emperor. Much of Aventicum’s later success is ascribed to the tender feelings Titus had for his hometown and childhood nurse, Pompeia.

Pompeia Gemella Stele Titus educatrix

Stele Dedicated to Pompeia Gemella, Nurse to an Emperor

To get to the ruins, one must hike through plowed fields and cow pastures. But they are there and are splendid. The watchtower in the wall has been repaired and one of the city’s 5 aqueducts is visible. The amphitheater is still used for events, and baths are being excavated and repaired. And if you go on a rainy day, you will leave thoroughly soaked, and completely satisfied from contemplating historic ruins…all by yourself.

Cigognier Imperial Temple Aventicum

Roman Wall and Aqueduct Aventicum

The Repaired Roman Wall and Aqueduct


September 24, 2012

Where can you scratch a baby camel under its chin (until it lays its head on the ground, because it likes it); see the Atlantic and Mediterranean oceans at the same time; enjoy a four, five, or maybe seven course meal for just a few euros (we lost count, as it just kept coming and coming); visit street markets with open air meat and fish; the same markets with fruit and vegetables from the Atlas mountains; see a few stars of David where you would not expect them; visit an archeological museum with local finds from the Greeks, Romans, and some more modern items; and do all of this in a day trip coming from another country? Welcome to Tangier, Morocco. From Tarifa, Spain, it’s only a 35-minute “fast ferry” ride across the straight of Gibraltar.

Berber Market

Berber Market, Tangier, Morocco.

Morocco–as with many places in Europe and the Near East which had contact with the Greeks and Romans in early times, and the Moors, Spanish, French, and English in later times–has had an interesting history of religion, change, and control.

There are Roman ruins at the city of Volubilis  (115 miles south of Tangier) which harken back to the time when Rome controlled all shores of the Mediterranean. Before that, just outside of the city of Tangier was a Phoenician colony at one of two potential sites for the ancient Pillars of Hercules. In more recent times (19th and 20th centuries), Morocco went through an interesting era as an “international city” where its ownership was shared between multiple countries and it was designated a tax-free zone. This, as you can imagine, attracted everyone from thrifty billionaires to con-men, and caused the Moroccan government to leave Tangier by the wayside. Times have now changed for the better, and in 1956, Tangier was returned to full Moroccan control. The Moroccan government is now investing in Tangier again, trying to bring back the “world-class” city status it once had (minus the con-men).

City of Tangier, Morocco.

City of Tangier, Morocco.

As mentioned, here you will find the strange mix of church, mosque, and synagogue that you might expect to find in Jerusalem. The mosque and church histories are not that hard to fit in, given the Moorish and European influence, but the synagogue is a tougher fit.  As is the case with many pockets of scattered Jewish populations, Morocco at times opened up to receive Jews. Some even came to the area in Rome times. These patterns solidified a Jewish presence here, which has declined in modern times. This helps explain the occasional Star of David you see in Tangier, as on stair rails from a popular Jewish hotel in the 50s near the port in Tangier.

Star of David Morocco Tangier Jew

Star of David on a Popular Tangier Hotel

Unfortunately, we cannot show pictures from the archeological museum, because, as with some museums, they do not allow photos. This is a pity for this museum in particular, since they do not sell books, nor do they have a website. Allowing responsible photography, as many museums have found, is a great way to promote themselves.

Last but most important, petting baby camels. They appear to have a sweet spot, just under the chin. Once you find it, you appear to have control of them. Who would have thought a camel could be so adorable?

Petting Baby Camel

The Sweet Spot on a Baby Camel Is Right under Her Chin

Gibraltar: Buses, Rocks, and Apes

September 22, 2012

The other day, we meandered from Spain into British territory by taking a turn around Gibraltar.  Gibraltar is a unique mix of British stuffiness and Spanish chaos–no one tells you where to go or how to get there, but they expect you to be there on time.

The first recorded settlement in Gibraltar was a Phoenician colony in 350 AD, but there is archaeological evidence of earlier human communities. The Rock of Gibraltar is also known as one of the pillars of Hercules from Greek mythology, in which Hercules left a pillar here and one in Morocco to mark the end of the known world. Carthaginians settled here, and then, as usual, Rome came along and kicked everyone out. Then, in 711 AD, Turiq ibn-Ziyad and his Muslim followers landed on what they called Jabal Tarik, or “Mountain of Tariq,” which eventually slurred into “Gibraltar.”

King Fahd bin Abdulaziz al-Saud Ibrahim-al-Ibrahim Mosqueof the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques

King Fahd bin Abdulaziz al-Saud Mosque in Gibraltar

Gibraltar eventually passed into Spanish hands during the Reconquista; but as Spain declined, Britain invaded and took Gibraltar during the War of Spanish Succession (1704). After that, Spain besieged Gibraltar fairly regularly, especially while Britain was having a bit of a kerfluffle with a savage little colony on the other side of the Pond. Britain would use the Rock as a strategic military base through several more wars and a couple of modern Spanish sieges lead by Franco, who cut off border crossings, communication methods, and water. However, with their English tenacity, the Brits have clung to their Rock.

Britain Gibraltar Airstrip

British Territory of Gibraltar

Our experience in Gibraltar involved us first getting lost in the bus system, but we did eventually make it to the top of the Rock and began our hike down. We encountered the peerless Gibraltar Apes (barbary macaques), with their serious and intelligent little faces. Rebekah had an especially close encounter with one. She was delighted.

We hiked the Mediterranean Steps trail down one side of the Rock and up the other, and were able to enjoy spectacular sea and ocean views away from the tourist crowds, including the spot where the Mediterranean meets the Atlantic. We explored Homer’s gate to the underworld (St. Michael’s Cave) and visited the siege tunnels built over the course of 200 years and several wars.

Mediterranean Steps Gibraltar

Mediterranean Steps Trail on the Rock of Gibraltar

In celebration of the long and rigorous hikes we took, we decided to close our excursion by negotiating the bus system again, going in two and a half circles, and then simply walking out on our own two feet.

Gibraltar Ape Barbary Macaque Family

Gibraltar Ape Family

Granada, Land of Blood and Sun

September 18, 2012

We spent yesterday in the city of Granada, Spain and centered our time around the exquisite Alhambra.

To understand Spain, and especially Granada, you have to first understand the roots of Spanish history. Phoenicians founded Cádiz in 1100 BC, Iberians came in 800 BC from across the Pyrenees, and the Carthaginians settled in 250 BC. Then came Rome, who mastered the land in 20 BC, making fertile Hispania an agricultural provider for the Empire. This united the people under the common language of Latin (which would later form what we know as Spanish in all its regional dialects), and under the common religion of catholicism in 300 BC. Biblical history tells us in Romans 15 (around 60 AD) that Paul hoped to journey to Spain with a stop in Rome to visit the Church there. In 711 AD, Spain slipped into new hands. Around 12,000 members of a new religion, Islam, invaded the peninsula and established a very tolerant rule from Córdoba for around 700 years. The Reconquista (catholic reconquest of the Spanish lands) ended this period. The last Moorish stronghold in Granada fell under Ferdinand and Isabel’s hand in 1492, while Columbus sought the Indies. When Boabdil, the last Moorish king fled Granada, he wept. His mother sneered, “You weep like woman for what you could not defend like a man!”

Granada Moorish Quarter Alhambra

View of the Moorish Quarter (Old City) from the Alhambra

The Alhambra was the king’s palace in Granada. It contains all of the intricate architectural details of the Moorish style: horseshoe arches, stalactites, vibrant colors, and the geometric tiling that showcased the Moor’s mathematical prowess and inspired artist MC Escher. But the main decoration at the Alhambra is water. In the arid lands of Islam, water was life and wealth–a precious commodity. As all kings since time in memoriam, the sultans flaunted their riches and thus, here, threw water away on plants, ponds, and fountains like it was just dust.

Water Feature Alhambra Fountain

Water Decorating the Alhambra

The centerpiece of this palace is known now as the Patio de Leones. The Jewish community got along quite well with the sultans, and presented them with the huge and beautiful lion fountain, a large basin resting on the backs of 12 lions (representing the 12 tribes of Judah). This brings to mind another Jewish symbol–Solomon’s molten sea, a great basin resting of the backs of graven oxen (II Chronicles 4:2-5).

Patio of Lions Leones Alhambra

Patio de Leones

Off of this court is the Hall of the Abencerrajes, the sultan’s living room. Boabdil’s father once took a new wife and wanted a new heir through her. To achieve this, he decided to cut off the children of his first marriage. Quite literally. At one time, he had 36 heads piled in the room’s fountain. The savage brutality is shocking now, though commonplace then. But, sic simper tyranus; his plan failed and Boabdil ascended to the throne.

Abencerrajes Alhambra Boabdil

The Living Room, Abencerrajes

There were many other interesting niches and corridors here. One door would lead to a 1200 AD bathroom with full plumbing, the one directly across from it led to the harem. Insets in the wall face Mecca for prayer. Windows peek out at the white-stucco city or the luxurious gardens inside the walls. And everywhere is heard the lush gurgle of water from fountains, pools, and irrigation tunnels.

Gardens Fountains Alhambra

Gardens and Fountains at the Alhambra