Israel: Important Hellenistic harbor found in Acre

07/18/2012 04:33

Harbor was likely largest to country during Hellenistic period, contains large mooring stones, according to AA.

Ancient quay recently uncovered in Acre Photo: Kobi Sharvit/Antiquities Authority
Archeologists have recently uncovered a bustling harbor active about 2,300 years ago at the foot of Acre’s southern seawall, the Antiquities Authority announced on Tuesday.

The harbor, which was probably operated for military purposes, was likely the largest and most important to the country during the Hellenistic period and contains large mooring stones that were probably used to secure sailing vessels, according to the authority.

The archeologists discovered the site during excavations being carried out as part of the seawall conservation project undertaken by the Old Acre Development Company and underwritten by the Israel Land Administration.

The first hint at the quay’s possible existence occurred in 2009, when excavators uncovered pieces of kurkar flagstones whose design resembled the Phoenician style found in many other marine environment installations, the authority said. These dressed stones may have belonged to large buildings or installations spread over dozens of meters, according to Kobi Sharvit, director of the Antiquities Authority.

Meanwhile, the mooring stones incorporated into the quay to secure vessels represent “an unequivocal answer to the question of whether we are dealing with port installations or the floor of a building,” he explained.

“What emerges from these finds is a clear picture of systematic and deliberate destruction of the port facilities that occurred in antiquity,” Sharvit said, noting that the findings likely make up the military port of Acre.

Scattered among the mooring stones were pieces of pottery vessels, many of which may have hailed from ports across the Aegean Sea, including Knidos, Rhodes, Kos and others, as well as other cities located along the Mediterranean coast, the authority said.

The floor of a partially exposed stone pavement slab – about eight by five meters – bordered by two Phoenician-style walls, presumably served as a slipway, a mechanism used for lifting boats onto the shore, according to Sharvit.

“Only further archeological excavations will corroborate or invalidate this theory,” he said.  

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