Israel Antiquities Authority


Gerald FINKIELSZTEJN (with contribution by Amani ABU HAMID), IAA - In memory of Dan BARAG

On January 24th 2008 G. F. lectured on “The Rhodian Amphora Stamps as Evidence for Battles in the Hellenistic Southern Levant” in a seminar held by the IAA.
There seem to be now evidence for the activities of armies in the same area, in the 4th-Early 3rd centuries BCE, also based on amphora finds, accompanied by other types of finds.

AKKO. A probe excavation was directed by G. F. in Akko in 2002, on Remez Street on both parts of the junction with Ben-Ami Street. In a rather reduced surface, amphoras from Chios with basket-handles amphoras of several variants were found embedded in a muddy soil, dated roughly in the 4th century BCE. Some fragments of North Aegean amphoras of the same period, as well as others of Early South-East Aegean amphoras of the late 4th-early 3rd century BCE were also found in various other trenches. G.F. presented this material in a seminar on the excavations in the Northern District of the IAA, in 2007.

In 2006, Amani Abu Hamid uncovered a large area located near the Akko train station, a few hundred meters from the previous above excavation, comprising structures the walls of which were made of Phoenician (torpedo) amphoras as well as of packed fragments of imported amphoras. In the spaces limited by those sort of low fences, more amphoras of the same classes and periods as in my previous excavation were found. A few Thasian amphora stamped handles concur with the other early finds and are dated in the early 4th century BCE, starting ca. 395 BCE. Other material accompanied these amphoras, including Attic material dated mostly to the very end of the 5th (few)-4th centuries BCE, as well as coins from Asia Minor.

The area of these excavations is located at the foothill of Tell Akko, in an area understood as having been a sea channel at the relevant periods (still to be fully confirmed by the study of geological strata).

JAFFA. In Jaffa, in the course of various excavations, including those directed by Joseph Kaplan in the 50s-60s, amphoras of the same periods were also uncovered, with the addition of Cypriot stamps and an almost complete amphora (to be published by G. F.).

SOUTHERN LEVANT. In the Southern Levant in general, Thasian amphora stamps of the 4th century BCE were found. Interestingly, a gap in the import of these Thasian amphoras is evidenced between ca. 348 and 316 BCE (according to Yvon Garlan’s chronology of the Thasina stamps).

Preliminary historical hypotheses can be suggested for the above archaeological evidence:
1) In the early 4th century the Persian empire had to suppress the revolt of Evagoras of Salamis (3387/6-383/1 BCE), which involved also part of the Levant, notably Tyre. In addition, Artaxerxes 2nd also organized an invasion of Egypt (against Achoris, allied with Evagoras). It seems that the preparations by the Great King (385-384) included the gathering of fleets in logistic cities such as Sidon, Akko and Gaza, with Akko being the main one. The boats were made in Phoenicia, but probably also in Cyprus and Cilicia, where troops were enrolled. The war against Egypt started in 373 (under Nektanebo 1st) but the preparations took several years. A column with the name of Achoris may be related to these events. Was the wine and the settlement in Akko linked with these events?
2) The beginning of gap in the Thasian imports falls in the period of the revolt lead by Tennes king of Sidon, involving the Levantine coast and the kings in Cyprus, and its rather quick suppression by the Great King, Artaxerxes III Ochus (after 351 [349/8?]-345). Could it be also, concomitantly, that the conquest of Philip 2nd of Macedon in 340 disturbed the export? But this could not have lasted so long.
The length of the gap seems quite puzzling (ca. 30 years). However, it may bring support to Dan Barag’s suggestion about “The Effects of the Tennes Rebellion on Palestine” (BASOR 183, 1966:6-12).
3) The renewal of the imports of Thasian amphoras fall in the period of the end of the struggle between the Diadochi for the division of Alexander’s empire, not preventing the organization of settlements. Between 318 and 301 BCE the Southern Levant changed hands several times until the final conquest by Ptolemy I. The earliest south-eastern Aegean amphoras (from Rhodes, Knidos, Kos, Samos) may have made their way in the occasion of the organization of the area at the end of the conflict.

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