Afek IMG 8217.JPG
Antipatris is located in Central Israel
Shown within Central Israel
Antipatris is located in Israel
Antipatris (Israel)
Alternative nameTel Afek, and Kŭlảt Râs el ’Ain, the castle of the spring-head[1]
LocationCentral District, Israel
Coordinates32°06′18″N 34°55′49.5″E / 32.10500°N 34.930417°E / 32.10500; 34.930417Coordinates: 32°06′18″N 34°55′49.5″E / 32.10500°N 34.930417°E / 32.10500; 34.930417
Grid position144/167 PAL
Site notes
ConditionIn ruins

Antipatris /ænˈtɪpətrɪs/ (Hebrew: אנטיפטריס, Ancient Greek: Αντιπατρίς)[2] was a city built during the first century BC by Herod the Great, who named it in honour of his father, Antipater. The site, now a national park in central Israel, was inhabited from the Chalcolithic Period to the late Roman Period.[3] The remains of Antipatris are known today as Tel Afek (תל אפק‎), although formerly as Kŭlat Râs el 'Ain. It has been identified as either the tower of Aphek mentioned by Josephus,[4] or the biblical Aphek, best known from the story of the Battle of Aphek. During the Crusader Period the site was known as Surdi fontes, "Silent springs". The Ottoman fortress known as Binar Bashi or Ras al-Ayn was built there in the 16th century.

Antipatris/Tel Afek lies at the strong perennial springs of the Yarkon River, which throughout history has created an obstacle between the hill country to the east and the Mediterranean to the west, forcing travellers and armies to pass through the narrow pass between the springs and the foothills of Samaria. This gave the location of Antipatris/Tel Afek its strategic importance.

Antipatris was situated on the Roman road from Caesarea Maritima to Jerusalem, north of the town of Lydda where the road turned eastwards towards Jerusalem.[5] During the British Mandate, a water pumping station was built there to channel water from the Yarkon to Jerusalem.[6]

Today the remains of Antipatris are located roughly between Petah Tikva and the towns of Kafr Qasim and Rosh HaAyin (literally "headspring"), south of Hod HaSharon.[7]


Tel Afek
Tel Afek
האגם הגדול בתל אפק.jpg


The Bronze Age saw the construction of defensive walls, 2.5 metres (8.2 ft) to 3.5 metres (11 ft) wide, and a series of palaces. One of these is described as an Egyptian governor residence of the 15th century BC, and within, an array of cuneiform tablets were found. Philistine ware is found in the site in 12th century BC layers.[3]

Most scholars agree that there were more than one Aphek. While Tel-Aphek (Antipatris) is one of them, C.R. Conder identified the Aphek of Eben-Ezer[8] with a ruin (Khirbet) some 3.7 miles (6 km) distant from Dayr Aban (believed to be Eben-Ezer[9]), and known by the name Marj al-Fikiya; the name al-Fikiya being an Arabic corruption of Aphek.[10] Eusebius, when writing about Eben-ezer in his Onomasticon, says that it is "the place from which the Gentiles seized the Ark, between Jerusalem and Ascalon, near the village of Bethsamys (Beit Shemesh),"[11] a locale that corresponds with Conder's identification.

The historian Josephus mentions a certain tower called Aphek, not far from Antipatris, and which was burnt by a contingent of Roman soldiers.[12]


Antipatris was a city built by Herod the Great, and named in honor of his father, Antipater II of Judea. It lay between Caesarea Maritima and Lydda, on the great Roman road from Caesarea to Jerusalem,[5] and figures prominently in Roman-era history. Today, the nearby river bears the town's old namesake in the Arabic tongue (Arabic: نهر أبو فطرس, romanizedNahr Abū Fuṭrus).

According to Josephus, Antipatris was built on the site of an older town that was formerly called Chabarzaba (Hebrew: כפר סבא), a place so-named in classical Jewish literature and in the Mosaic of Rehob.[13] During the outbreak of the Jewish war with Rome in 64 CE, the Roman army under Cestius was routed as far as Antipatris.[14]

Paul the Apostle was brought by night from Jerusalem to Antipatris and next day from there to Caesarea Maritima, to stand trial before the governor Antonius Felix.[15]

Only one of the early bishops of the Christian bishopric of Antipatris, a suffragan of Caesarea, is mentioned by name in extant documentation: Polychronius, who was present both at the Robber Council of Ephesus in 449 and the Council of Chalcedon in 451.[16] No longer a residential bishopric, Antipatris is today listed by the Catholic Church as a titular see.[17]

In 363, the city was badly damaged by an earthquake.

Ottoman Ras al-Ayn

Binar Bashi, the Ottoman fortress at the head of the Yarkon River
Binar Bashi, the Ottoman fortress at the head of the Yarkon River

Ottoman records indicate that a Mamluk fortress may have stood on the site.[18] However, the Ottoman fortress was built following the publication of a firman in AD 1573 (981 H.):

"You have sent a letter and have reported that four walls of the fortress Ras al-Ayn have been built, [..] I have commanded that when [this firman] arrives you shall [..have built] the above mentioned rooms and mosque with its minaret and have the guards remove the earth outside and clean and tidy [the place].[19]

The Turkish name of the place and fortress, pınar başı, means "fountain-head" or simply "head of the springs", much like the Arabic and Hebrew names (Ras al-Ayin and Rosh ha-Ayin, "head of the springs"). Pronounced by Arabic-speakers, it became "Binar Bashi" (Arabic has no "p").

The fortress was built to protect a vulnerable stretch of the Cairo-Damascus highway (the Via Maris), and was provided with 100 horsemen and 30 foot soldiers. The fortress was also supposed to supply soldiers to protect the hajj route.[20] The fortress is a massive rectangular enclosure with four corner towers and a gate at the centre of the west side. The south-west tower is octagonal, while the three other towers have a square ground plan.[21]

It appeared named Chateau de Ras el Ain on the map that Pierre Jacotin compiled in 1799.[22]

The Arab peasants deserted the village in the 1920s.[23]

Antipatris fort. 1948
Antipatris fort. 1948
Ras al Ein 1941 1:20,000
Ras al Ein 1941 1:20,000

Yarkon-Tel Afek national park

Currently, the site of Antipatris is included in the national park "Yarkon-Tel Afek", under the jurisdiction of the Israel Nature and Parks Authority, incorporating the area of the Ottoman fortress, the remains of the Roman city and the British water pumping station.


Area A

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 BC, the reign of Ramesses II. The two winepresses 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

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[24] and Mycenaean[25] 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[26] must remain uncertain.[27] 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.

See also


  1. ^ Palmer, 1881, p. 216
  2. ^ Hebrew spelling based on Tosefta (Demai 1:11), although in the Mishnah (Gittin 7:7, et al.) it is often spelt אנטיפרס‎.
  3. ^ a b Kochavi, 1997, pp. 147-151
  4. ^ Josephus, The Jewish War 2.19.1
  5. ^ a b Public Domain Easton, Matthew George (1897). Easton's Bible Dictionary (New and revised ed.). T. Nelson and Sons. ((cite encyclopedia)): Missing or empty |title= (help)
  6. ^ Yarkon and Tel Afek National Park Archived 2016-04-25 at the Wayback Machine
  7. ^ "Aphek | Pictures from the Holyland".
  8. ^ The account in 1 Samuel 4:1 of the battle at Aphek and Eben-ezer
  9. ^ C.R. Conder, Notes from the Memoir, Palestine Exploration Quarterly, vol. 18, London 1876, p. 149; Conder & Kitchener, The Survey of Western Palestine, vol. iii (Judaea), London 1883, p. 24
  10. ^ North, Robert (1960). "Ap(h)eq(a) and 'Azeqa". Biblica. 41 (1): 61–63. JSTOR 42637769.
  11. ^ Eusebius Werke, Erich Klostermann (ed.), Leipig 1904, p. 33,24.
  12. ^ Josephus, The Jewish War 2.19.1
  13. ^ Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews xvi.v.§2; xiii.xv.§1; cf. Jerusalem Talmud, Demai 2:1 (8a). In the Mosaic of Rehob, the variant spelling is כפר סבה; Conder and Kitchener, SWP II, London 1881, pp. 258-ff..
  14. ^ Josephus, Wars of the Jews (book ii, chapter xix); (Bell. Jud. ii. 14-20)
  15. ^ Acts of the Apostles 23:31–32.
  16. ^ Michel Lequien, Oriens christianus in quatuor Patriarchatus digestus, Paris 1740, Vol. III, coll. 579-582
  17. ^ Annuario Pontificio 2013 (Libreria Editrice Vaticana 2013 ISBN 978-88-209-9070-1), p. 834
  18. ^ Heyd, 1960, p.108. Cited in Petersen, 2001, p. 257
  19. ^ Heyd, 1960, pp. 107-108. Cited in Petersen, 2001, p. 257
  20. ^ Heyd, 1960, p. 106. Cited in Petersen, 2001, p. 257
  21. ^ Petersen, 2002, p. 255
  22. ^ Karmon, 1960, p. 171
  23. ^ Khalidi, 1992, p. 396
  24. ^ Beck and Kochavi 1985:36
  25. ^ Warren and Hankey 1989:155-156
  26. ^ Closely paralleled with at least 7 additional examples from Cyprus (Kition, Maa-Palaiokastro, Kalavassos-Ayios Dimitrios) and Ras Shamra (Ugarit), cf. Yasur-Landau and Goren 2004:22-23.
  27. ^ cf. Yasur-Landau and Goren 2004:24 for various interpretations, whether an ownership mark, unit of measurement or a phonetic syllable.