Jaffa is one of the ancient port cities in Israel and the Mediterranean basin. It has a strong link to the historic events that took place in the Land of Israel in particular and the Eastern Mediterranean basin in general, ever since the dawn of settlement there. It is built on a high cliff that juts from the shoreline into the sea and the ports lies at its foot. We learn of its history from historical sources as well as from excavations that took place in Jaffa and its environs. The Bronze Age, the Period of Egyptian Rule: The most ancient remnants that were discovered in Jaffa (the region of the hamam and inside it) are the remnants of a glacis that surrounded the hill during the 18th century B.C.E. (the Second Middle Bronze Age). The remnants from this period, the period of the Egyptian conquest, attest that Jaffa was a city under Egyptian control on the model of other cities in Canaan. In the central excavation area (area A) that is currently located in the Ramses Gate Garden remnants of a community from the close of the 17th century and the first half of the 16th century B.C.E. were discovered. From the Late Bronze Age (the latter half of the 16th century and the 15 century B.C.E.) the remnants of buildings that were built out of bricks on stone foundations were discovered. From the Late Bronze Age (13-1400 BCE) three layers of settlement were discovered: In the lowest layer the remnants of structures and a granary built out of unhewn stones were discovered. Above it we find the remains of an entrance gate to a luxurious palace from the period of the Egyptian Pharaoh Ramses II (1237-1304 B.C.E.). The artwork of the gate was built out of hard and chiseled sandstone in which hieroglyphics bearing the titles and portions of the name of Ramses II are engraved. The walls were built out of bricks and on top of them are remnants of the gate (the bronze axle of a wooden gate has been found) and the Egyptian fort that were destroyed in a vast conflagration (the end of the 13thCentury and beginning of the 12th Century B.C.E.) A number of external written testimonies referring to Jaffa have survived from this era and they are: The Harris papyrus that describes the conquest of Jaffa by stealth by the Army of the Pharaoh Thutmose III (1450-1504 B.C.E.) by providing a gift in the form of large jugs in which Egyptian soldiers were hidden to the governor Jaffa, which enabled the city’s conquest from within. The city appears in a list of towns conquered by Thutmose III at the Temple of Karnak in Egypt. Remnants of administrative letters engraved in cuneiform on mud tablets that were discovered in the Pharaonic Archives at Tel el-Amarna in Egypt where the granaries of the Pharaoh in Jaffa were mentioned. At Tel Afek (near Rosh Ha’Ayin) a similar letter where Jaffa is mentioned was discovered. The Papyrus Anastasi describes an expedition by a courtier in Canaan and includes a description of Jaffa, its gardens and residents at the close of the 13th century B.C.E.
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