The Last Supper in Apollonia
The final days of the crusader fortress in Herzlia
On April 29th, 1265, after 40 days of a gory siege, the soldiers of Baibars, the Mamluk sultan, broke through the walls of the Crusader fortress in Arsur, known to us today as Apollonia -Arsuf, on the shores of Herzlia. The Knights Hospitaller, who fervently defended the fortress, responded to the call of the sultan who promised them freedom and surrendered to the Moslem armies. However, the Sultan changed his mind and took them as prisoners. During the 40 days of fighting, the Mamluks used the best methods of siege that were known at the time. The Hospitallers on their part used the optimum defensive means known to them, and in some instances were considerably successful. Two thousand five hundred catapults, hundreds of iron arrows and grenades were fired in the battle between the parties. The result was a multifaceted, complex and vicious military battle; ultimately the entire fortress and city walls were razed to the foundation. The deliberate destruction of the Crusader fortress was systematic and extensive to the degree that it no reconstruction was possible. The signs of destruction were obvious throughout the fortress and in the city, and were far more drastic than those found at other sites that underwent similar processes. In anticipation of the forthcoming siege the buildings near the city's walls were evacuated and filled with earth and stones in order to solidify and reinforce them. The evacuated inhabitants found shelter in the fortress, as did other inhabitants who fled after the city walls were penetrated in the early days of the siege. This large population that resided between the fortress walls mandated reorganization for food preparation and storage. To this end, the existing space in the fortress was reorganized so that it could house tools for grinding, cooking and baking food, and washing dishes. Five stoves for cooking and baking were discovered in the kitchen, as well as sinks for dishwashing. Huge pool, used for drinking water, and installations for grinding wheat were also found. Part of the bathroom was converted into a space for trash; in this space several hundred eating and cooking utensils, storage containers, and lighting equipment belonging to the knights and warriors were found. Beautiful decorated and glazed dishes made in Antiochia, dishes imported from Italy and Asia Minor, and local dishes were found next to fine glassware, including golden dishes. Among the kitchen tools and utensils cooking pots and frying pans of various sizes were found, all of which were glazed and served for cooking, baking and frying.
Curator: Dr. Irit Ziffer
Opens: May 11
Closes: September 30, 2011