Posts Tagged ‘ottoman empire’

Aphek and the Importance of Location

July 25, 2013

The other day, we spent a bit of time at Tel Afek, the site of…Aphek, also called Antipatris.

Ottoman Fortress at Tel Afek

Ottoman Fortress at Tel Afek

Biblically, we first see Aphek as one of the cities taken by the conquest and given to the tribe of Asher. By this time, it was already old, having been controlled by Egypt for quite some time. In I Samuel 4, the Philistines were encamped at Aphek when they routed Israel’s army and took the Ark of the Covenant as spoil. Despite the fact that that incident ended rather unpleasantly for them, they again set up base there to fight the Israelites–though, for some reason, the princes of the Philistines protested against David’s presence in their army.

Egyptian Palace at Tel Afek

Egyptian Palace at Tel Afek

History tells us that Herod would eventually receive Aphek as part of his kingdom, which he expanded, adding a Roman forum and cardo through the city. He renamed it Antipatris, after his father. It was thus to ancient Aphek that the chief Roman captain of the Antonia, Claudias Lysias, spirited Paul away when the Jews made their assassination plot against him (Acts 23).

The Roman Cardo at Tel Afek

The Roman Cardo at Tel Afek

But why was Aphek so hotly contested? From its foundation in the Chalcolithic Period (4500-3000 BC) to the Ottoman empire, it is clear why it was a popular piece of real estate. Located at the headwaters of the Yarkon River, Aphek sat on a strategic point where the coastal routes–including the Via Maris–were blocked by the Yarkon and its surrounding swampland, and funneled through a narrow pass towards Megiddo and the Jezreel Valley. Whoever controlled Aphek controlled the pass and any trade or armies moving through it.

Via Maris Funneled by Aphek (A BIBARCH™ Photo courtesy of High Top Media™. Copyright ©1997 High Top Media™. All Rights Reserved.)

Via Maris Funneled by Aphek
(A BIBARCH™ Photo courtesy of High Top Media™. Copyright ©1997 High Top Media™. All Rights Reserved.)

And, as a side note, the local donkey population at Tel Afek is also worth viewing. They are as curious about you as you are of them.

Citizen of the Local Donkey Population

Citizen of the Local Donkey Population