The Egyptian Fortress in Jaffa
Aaron A. Burke & Martin Peilstöcker, Popular Archaeology March 2013
Situated on the central coast of Israel, on the south side of Tel Aviv, and 60 km to the northwest of Jerusalem, Jaffa’s antiquity and importance as a Mediterranean port was well established before the resumption of excavations in 2008 by the Jaffa Cultural Heritage Project. While the biblical texts have served as a primary historical referent, Jaffa’s importance in other periods is much more clearly understood in classical sources including Josephus, but also even from Egyptian New Kingdom literature and administrative documents. Following excavations during the 1950s of the archaeological remains of an Egyptian fortress in Jaffa, a fortress that existed for most of the Late Bronze Age (ca. 1460 to 1130 BC), seeking to understand Jaffa’s role in the Egyptian New Kingdom imperial control of Canaan became of paramount importance.
In 2007 the Jaffa Cultural Heritage Project was established by Aaron A. Burke of the Cotsen Institute of Archaeology at the University of California, Los Angeles and Martin Peilstöcker of the Israel Antiquities Authority. The project’s overarching goal is to facilitate long-term research of Jaffa’s cultural heritage through the integration of research and salvage excavations, cultural and historical studies, and multidisciplinary scientific approaches to Jaffa’s history and archaeology. Central to this objective was the renewal of excavations on the mound of ancient Jaffa (Tel Yafo). As part of the initial phase of the project, the Kaplan Excavations Publication Initiative was conceived to provide an in-depth analysis of the unpublished excavations by the site’s most prolific excavator, Jacob Kaplan, who conducted excavations on behalf of the municipality of Tel Aviv-Jaffa and the Israel Department of Antiquities and Museums from 1955 to 1974. We present here the preliminary results of our synthesis of the results of the old excavations since the resumption of excavations in the same area in 2011 by the Jaffa Cultural Heritage Project.