For the First Time, Remains of a Crusader Encampment Found in Israel

October 18, 2021 | Rossella Tercatin
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The most significant impact of the Crusades on Jewish history likely came in the form of the orgies of violence they unleashed on Jewish communities in France, England, and Germany. But in the 12th and 13th centuries these attempts to reclaim Christian holy sites from Muslim rule led to the establishment of European kingdoms in the Land of Israel, at a time when the Jewish community there was at its nadir. Near the Tzippori Springs, in the Galilee region, archaeologists have for the first time discovered the remnants of a Crusader camp. Rossella Tercatin writes:

For a certain period, [the Crusaders] placed Jerusalem under Christian rule, a period documented by a vast corpus of historical sources as well as massive structures such as castles and fortresses left by the Crusaders in the region. However, very little remains to testify moments of transitions, such as battles and encampments. In recent years, while workers were expanding Route 79 that connects the coast with Nazareth, the Israel Antiquities Authority archaeologists Nimrod Getzov and Ianir Milevski . . . conducted the required salvage excavation [and discovered the encampment].

According to chronicles from the time, the Christian army was stationed in the area of the Tzippori Springs for around two months before the crucial battle that allowed the troops led by Sultan Saladin to reconquer much of the region, including Jerusalem.

The archaeologists unearthed hundreds of metal artifacts, and were able to study their relations to the landscape. . . . The majority of artifacts the archaeologists uncovered were horseshoe nails, both of a local type and of a more sophisticated European type, which were prevalent closer to the springs.

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