Archaeological digs being carried out by the Antiquities Authority in the old city of Tiberias have revealed impressive remains of the gate and wall of the city's 12th century Crusader fortress. The digs are part of a tourism development project initiated by the Tourism Ministry.
The digs are underway along the Lake Kinneret promenade, close to the Rabbi Haim Abulafiya ancient synagogue, with the assistance of the Tiberias Municipality and the Avnei Derekh and Rushrush companies.
One of the posts of the gate that has been uncovered shows a portion of a magnificently decorated crossbeam. According to Yossi Stapensky, who is overseeing the dig on behalf of the Antiquities Authority, "It appears that this item, which originated from a public building from the Roman era, was incorporated into the fort to beautify the gate and impress all those coming into the city."
The wall of the fortress is constructed of large basalt stones and is the widest (3.4 meters) uncovered till now in Tiberias. Portions of the wall are also believed to have come from a public structure from the Roman era.
It appears that the fortress was surrounded by a deep moat filled with water from Lake Kinneret that protected its entrance.
The well-preserved condition of the gate makes it possible to uncover the structure in its entirety, and the site will be incorporated into the tourism development project planned alongside the lake's promenade in the future.
On July 2, 1187, Salah a-Din and his army besieged the Tiberias fortress. The Crusaders who got word of the siege left for the city to free their besieged comrades. But on July 4, on the way to Tiberias, the Crusaders were attacked by Salah a-Din's forces. The ensuing battle resulted in victory for the Muslim.
It is believed that this battle determined the fate of the Land of Israel: Had the Muslims been defeated, the entire region may very well have remained till today under Christian and European rule.
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