Biblical Archaeology Review 30:1, January/February 2004

Strata: At Risk

Two Holy Land Sites Added to 2004 Watch List

The World Monuments Fund has put two ancient sites in Israel and the West Bank on its 2004 Watch List of the 100 most endangered sites in the world.

Tell Balatah (ancient Shechem), located 1.5 miles east of the modern West Bank city of Nablus, was an influential commercial center from the Middle Bronze Age to the late Hellenistic period (c. 1900–100 B.C.) and is mentioned numerous times in Egyptian annals and in the Bible.a Abraham is said to have passed through the city on his way to Canaan (Genesis 12:6) and Jacob’s sons pastured their flocks nearby (Genesis 37:12–14).

Although the city was destroyed by the Assyrians in 722 B.C., a Samaritan settlement was erected on the site 400 years later. That city was razed to the ground in 197 B.C. by John Hyrcanus, the Hasmonean ruler of Jerusalem, and never rebuilt.

Today the site is in desperate need of a management and conservation plan. Vandalism, encroaching agricultural fields and urban development, and heavy rains threaten Tell Balatah’s exposed mudbrick buildings.

The recently excavated settlement of Apollonia-Arsuf, in Herziliya, about 10 miles north of Tel Aviv, was also named to the 2004 Watch List. Founded by the Persians more than 2,500 years ago and later occupied by the Romans and the Crusaders, Apollonia-Arsuf is imperiled by its location on a cliff overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. The cliff face must be shored up and a protective breakwater constructed to protect a 13th-century A.D. Crusader castle from pounding surf.

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