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Aphek-Antipatris is a significant historical landmark in central Israel, located next to Rosh Ha’ayin Springs. Being along the “Via Maris,” which connected Egypt with the north, Aphek played an essential role in the history of the Holy Land and its interactions with neighboring regions.

Aphek-Antipatris Through the Ages

The Canaanites were the first to settle in Aphek, some 4000 years ago. Yet being is a significant strategic locations, in the 15th century BCE the Egyptian conquerered Canaan, and set an administration center in Aphek. In the 12th Century BCE the Philistines camped at Aphek, and defeated the Israelites in the nearby fields of Eben Haezer. In 9 BCE King Herod refounded Aphek and renamed it after his father – Antipatris. The New Testament indicated that Peter spent a night in Antipatris’ prison, when sent to Caesarea.

Antipatris and the New Testament

Paul was a Jew from Tarsus who witnessed the stoning of Stephanus in Jerusalem. Later he zealously persecuted the early followers of Jesus, yet his dramatic conversion to Christian faith, on his to Damascus, made him into one of the biggest advocators of Christianity. He devoted his life to preach for Jesus as Christ and the son of God, and effectively spread the Christian faith in Greece, Asia Minor, and Italy. After his third missionary journey, Paul became involved in conflicts with “Asian Jews”, which led to his arrest. Yet being a Roman citizen, Paul demanded to be trialed in Roma itself. The Roman governor consented that Paul would be sent to Rome, and he was sent, with guards, from Jerusalem to the port city of Caesarea. Since the journey from Jerusalem to Caesarea was more than a day –

the soldiers, carrying out their orders, took Paul with them during the night and brought him as far as Antipatris. The next day .. the cavalry arrived in Caesarea.. ” (Acts 23:32-33).

Aphek-Antipatris in Byzantine to British Periods

Aphek-Antipatris was inhabited also in Byzantine times. In the 12th century the Crusaders restored the city, and named it “Turron de Surdi Fontes”. It functioned as a fort guarding the roads with neighboring Mirabel. In the 16th century, the Ottomans built an enormous fort at Aphek-Antipatris and renamed it “Pinar Bashi”. In 1799, Napoleon found the Ottoman fort deserted, and in 1917, the British bombarded the fort in their battle over the Holy Land.

Excavations of Aphek-Antipatris

An archaeological expedition from Tel-Aviv University excavated Aphek-Antipatris between 1972 to 1985. The team uncovered remains from Canaanite to Ottoman times, including finds of first-century Antipatris. The architectural finds include a commercial street (Cardo), a public plaza (Forum), and a small theatre at its southern end. Paul probably didn’t enjoy any of this, as he was likely held in the prison of Antipatris. In Roman times, the city’s prison was usually within the governor’s administrative center (praetorium). The Praetorium of Antipatris has not been discovered yet.

Touring Aphek-Antipatris

Today, the site is part of the Yarkon National Park. The archaeological site presents a wealth of finds from different periods. Its’ edge also provides a great panorama of the Coastal plain. Looking at the plains, one can imagine the fierce battles between the Philistines and the Israelites in later periods. Near the mound, a seasonal swamp presents the rich local wildlife of this region.

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