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Athlit

ATHLIT (Heb. עַתְלִית), ancient port on the Mediterranean coast of Ereẓ Israel, 19 mi. (31 km.) south of Cape Carmel; now site of a Jewish village. It has been identified with Kartha, a city of Zebulun, mentioned in some Greek versions of Joshua 21:34. The road station Certha was still mentioned in its vicinity in 333 C.E. Excavations have shown that the site was inhabited in the Iron Age, probably by Phoenicians. A colony of Greek mercenaries with Egyptian and native wives settled at Athlit in Persian-Hellenistic times. In 1217 Crusader pilgrims built a castle there called the Château des Pélerins (Castrum Peregrinorum); it was held by Templar knights. This served through most of the Crusader period as a kind of immigrants' hostel and absorption and clearing station for newly arrived knights of the Cross who were sent from here to their posts. It successfully resisted an attack by Sultan Baybars in 1264–65. Evacuated in 1291, a few months later than Acre, the fall of Athlit marked the final end of the Crusades. The castle was built on a promontory, jutting out into a bay which served it as a harbor. It was defended by a flooded fosse, a low outer wall, and an inner wall with two towers, 98 ft. high, one of which is still standing. Inside are vaulted store rooms, the foundations of an octagonal church, a vaulted refectory, and other ruins. A town with its own wall, church, and fort in the southeastern corner was attached to the castle; it contained a bath, and large smithies and stables. Near Athlit was a rock-cut passage (Bāb al-Hawā; in Latin: Petra incisa or Destrictum; now Khirbat Duṣṭrī) near which Baldwin I was attacked and wounded in 1103. The ruins of Athlit served as a quarry for the construction of Acre.

BIBLIOGRAPHY:

Johns, in: QDAP, 1–6 (1932–38), excavation reports; S. Runciman, History of the Crusades (19652), index; Prawer, Ẓalbanim, index.