woensdag 20 mei 2015

Akko 4

A short history in antiquity. Part 4.

Phoenician Akko has been completely obliterated by age? In any case the Canaanite Akka was situated on the so-called Kukar ridge, 1,2 km to the east of the actual old city of Acco. It is a 36m high hill with the name Tell el Fukhar, which could mean: potsherd hill.
No, M.Dothan discovered few traces of the Persian period: strata IV + V which belong to this period are only founding the areas A and D where a large administrative complex has come to light; in stratum IV has been found a Phoenician ‘ribbed’ wall.
M.Dothan. Akko, Interim Excavation Report, First season 1973-74. BASOR 224 (1976) and Chronique archéologique RB 82 (1975).
The earliest Iron Age occupation of Akko is scant and characterized by installations of local industrial character (furnaces, kilns, stone-lined silos etc.).
In the 7th century BC a building is made of 15 meters in length and divided in three rooms.
In the Persian period we see an urban expansion with the institution of axial ‘hippodamic’ street planning. The central courtyard house is the commonest type of building in Persian times (square groundplan, latitudial rooms, multiple corridors).
In to days Fishermen’s harbour (Han al-‘Umdan a Phoenician cothon (tiny harbour) has been found and even the remains of a cargo (4th-3rd century BC).

KAI 49,34 (ph):
’ n k   p ‘ l ’ b s t   b n   Ṣ d y t n   b n   g r Ṣ d   h Ṣ r y   y š b   ‘k y
I am Paalubast son of Sidyaton son of Gersid the Tyrian, a resident of Acco.
KAI 120 (ph):
Another inscription has been found on a spearhead from el-Ruweish and belongs probably to Iddo a soldier out of Akko, who was buried at the end of the 11th century BC near Sidon.
(ḥ s  ’ d ’  bn  ‘k y).

Strabo: the famous beach that provides suitable sand for the preparation of glass and that is situated between Akko and Tyre. Tacitus and Isidorus repeat that.
Strabo (16.271) says: The Sidonians came to the coast between Tyre and Acre in order to get the sand used in making glass; but he does not seem to believe this tradition.
Nevertheless Plinius comes also with a glass-story (36.190).
The beach is no more than a half-mile wide and it was for centuries the only suitable place to produce glass. The story goes that a ship with traders in soda stranded there and they spread across the beach to prepare their meals. Because they could not find stones to put their kettles, they placed there lumps of soda from the ship. When they were warm and melted with beach sand came transparent rivulets of an unknown liquid flow out. So the first glass would be formed.”

In the late 5th century BC some Tyrians coins were minted in Acco (Quaterly of the Department of Antiquities in Palestine, Vol.I p.10).
In the Roman period pictures of temples occur on coins at Ptolemais-Ace.

Late Bronze facilities for the production of purpledye from the murex shell have been discovered at Akko suggesting an active export trade in dyed wool- and linen garnements.
In 1971 a load of small clay statues of Tanit were found on the bottom of the sea at 1 km outside Akko. Apparently they came from a ship that was sunk just before it reached the safe harbour of the town. See: A sign of Tanit from Tel ‘Akko, M.Dothan, Isr.Expl.Journ.24 (1974).
The potsherds in the Assyrian period look very much the same at Akko, Tyre, Sidon and Byblos (7th century BC).
Egyptian interventions are easily recognizable by the objects found in Akko (amulets) (6th century BC).
In the Persian period Attic pottery appears in ever-increasing quantities by the end of the 5th century BC. Enclaves of resident foreigners appear on offshore islets or wharves creating open emporia.
Other objects:
- offering table of Achoris (392-380 BC).
- bronze mirror out of the late Bronze II period.
- Pit with pottery from the Persian period.
- Ostracon with the letters: ’ š r t = shrine.
- Ostracon with a stamp in the shape of the so called Tanit sign.
- one tiny stone mould with the letters: ’ š ’.
- anses.
- Seal with the letters: l Ṣ ---- ’ l w ‘ z ’ (El has aided). See: R.Giveon/A.Lemaire, Sceau phénicien inscrit d’Akko avec scène religieuse, Semitica XXXV. The seal comes from the 8th-7th century BC and was made of steatite. On the seal we see an atef-crown, plant, sceptre and a gazelle.


On the basis of our present knowledge we must recognize the correctness of the tradition of the ancient peoples who refused to ascribe the creation of the alphabet to the Phoenicians. This achievement was attributed instead to the Syrians (of Palestine), whom today we prefer to call Canaanites. (The Question of the Alphabet, Giovanni Garbini). If this is true, then Akko could have functioned as an intermediary station.

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