Athlit Castle Crusader Cemetery

Hof HaCarmel Regional Council, Haifa District, Israel

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Description

Athlit Castle, which was built by the Knights Templar in the early thirteenth century, now sits inside the perimeter of an Israeli Defense Force training camp on the coast between Haifa and Tel Aviv. Its cemetery, the largest known Crusader resting place in the Middle East, lies just outside the camp’s fence. Here, over a period of about eight decades, the remains of thousands of people were buried in an orderly rectangular space a football field long, and almost as wide. There are many unusual features of the Athlit cemetery that seem to contradict conventional thinking about European burial practices of the time. In the thirteenth century, the castle stood above a thriving town to the east and the fertile countryside beyond, but, unusually, the cemetery was located some distance away, close to the beach. Furthermore, all other known Crusader cemeteries, with the exception of one against Jerusalem’s walls, include a church or chapel—but not Athlit. In a 2006 survey, archaeologist Jennifer Thompson, then of Cardiff University, speculated that the cemetery was in use before the town and its church, which may never have been completed, and remained the sole place for burial through the life of the community.https://www.archaeology.org/issues/315-1811/sidebars/7124-templar-cemetery
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Athlit Castle Crusader Cemetery , Created by AYoung, Hof HaCarmel Regional Council, Haifa District, Israel