Tel ‘Afar (Tell al-Akhdar): A Monastic or Estate Church on the Via Maris South of Caesarea

Ofra Barkai, Alexandra Ratzlaff, Itamar Taxel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A monumental building at the coastal site of Tel ‘Afar, on the Via Maris—the road linking Antioch and Alexandria, was previously identified as the villa of a wealthy citizen of Caesarea. A new geological and archaeological survey at the site and re-examination of the findings from previous excavations, provide a new interpretation of the function and character of this building. Taken together, the analysis of the ceramic assemblage and the architectural plan along with the elements, all suggest that the structure was a Christian basilica, dated to the Byzantine period (6th–mid-7th centuries ce). Therefore, this evidence calls for a revaluation and classification of Tel ‘Afar either as a monastery or church on a private coastal estate.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)146-165
Number of pages20
JournalPalestine Exploration Quarterly
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2023
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We are grateful to Yosef Porath (IAA; retired) for the permission to publish the finds from his excavations at Tel ‘Afar and for providing us unpublished data from the excavation, Samuel Wolff (IAA Archives), Jacob Sharvit and Dror Planer (IAA Marine Unit), and Rebecca Cohen-Amin (IAA National Treasury Department) for their support, and Sapir ‘Ad for preparing the illustrations of this article.

Publisher Copyright:
© Palestine Exploration Fund 2022.


  • Byzantine Palestine
  • Tel ‘Afar
  • basilica churches
  • monasteries
  • private estates

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Archaeology
  • History
  • Visual Arts and Performing Arts
  • Religious studies
  • Archaeology


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