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PTOLEMAIS (Acre) Israel.

Phoenician city called Akko on the coast S of Tyre, refounded by Ptolemy II Philadelphos (285-246 B.C.). According to Isaeus and Demosthenes, there was an Athenian merchant colony there as early as the 4th c. B.C. In Hellenistic times Ptolemais was an important strategic site. It passed under Seleucid control in the 2d c. B.C. and became the main base of the Syrian Greeks against the Jews during the Maccabaean wars, and of the Romans in the Jewish wars of Vespasian, Titus, and Hadrian in the 1st and 2d c. A.D. Claudius gave it the title of colony. The Moslems took it in A.D. 638. The town was completely destroyed at the end of the Crusades and rebuilt at the end of the 18th c. The aqueduct visible to the NE dates from ca. 1800.

There are virtually no ancient remains. The ramparts, the temples of gods known from the town's coinage, the gymnasium built by Herod the Great, the public baths where, according to the Michnah, the rabbi Gamaliel did not fear to bathe himself underneath a statue of Aphrodite, have all disappeared.


N. Makhouly & C. N. Johns, Guide to Acre (1946); H. Seyrig, “Divinités de Ptolemaïs,” Syria 39 (1962) (Antiquités syriennes VI).


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