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Khirbet Karta

How many times I drove down the Israel Coast Road #2 and wondered what’s over on those calcareous sandstone ridges at Khirbet Karta on the coast at Atlit. These ridges are fossilized sea sand dunes called kurkar in Hebrew and are common in Israel but unique in the world.

There is an ancient submerged Neolithic village off the coast of Atlit called Atlit Yam. The kurkar created a small port which was used by the crusaders.

Khirbet Karta  (Qarta) Ruins

Khirbe means ruins and Qarta means city. This seems to be a misnomer. Let’s see what the real name of this place is. The Pilgrim of Bordeaux mentions a station called Mutatio Carthae which means a place to change horses. This is usually identified as Le Destroit with its many stables. Some archeologist identify it with Tel Sachar (or Tel Sachar) further north on the coast. You can see both on the map below.

חירבת קרתא

Limor Picnic Area

Named after a member of the Genio family which founded the salt works in nearby Atlit.

Limor Picnic Area
Limor Picnic Area

 

Lookout Point on British Mandatory Water Tower

A short walk from the Limor Picnic Area (not much) you can climb up to the roof of the British Mandatory water tower and not surprisingly enjoy the 360 degree view of the Mediterranean and Mt. Carmel. To the south you can see the ruins of Le Destroit and Chateau Pelerin. The outlook on the roof is named after Abraham Dankner, who later owned the salt works.

Khirbet Karta
Khirbet Karta Water Tower Lookout
Chateau Pelerin Crusader Atlit Fortress and Port
Chateau Pelerin Crusader Atlit Fortress and Port

 

Atlit - http://www2.rgzm.de/Navis2/Home/HarbourFullTextOutput.cfm?HarbourNR=Atlit
Atlit

 

Château Pèlerin

Chateau Pelerin (Atlit Castle and Castle Pilgrim), close to the Nachal Oren water supply and along to Via Maris, was built by the Knights Templar Crusaders began building it in 1218. It was one of the largest citadels in the Holy Land and lasted till 1291. Chateau Pelerin replaced the earlier castle of Le Destroit.

Nachal Oren
Nachal Oren

 

Remains of British Mandatory Military Camp
Remains of British Mandatory Military Camp
Israel Railway from Tel Aviv to Haifa (Chateau Pelerin in background)
Israel Railway from Tel Aviv to Haifa (Chateau Pelerin in background)

 

Crusader Stable

Crusader Staple
Crusader Staple Excavated in Coastal Kurkar Sandstone Ridge
Holes to hold outdoor stable roof
Holes to hold outdoor stable roof

 

Le Destroit

Destroit_fortress
Destroit_fortress: 1-Entrance, 2-roof lookout, 3-cistern, 4-stairs, 5-courtyard, 6-moat, 7-troughs, 8-stable

Le Destroit was a medieval fortress 2 km east of Crusader Atlit which preceded Chateau Pelerin. The name was preserved as Khirbet Dustrey, Districtum/Destrictum (because of the narrow road) or Petra incisa (quarried rock).  A deep gorge was quarried through the kurkar ridge used to ambush the robbers. It was known in Arabic as Bab el-Ajal which means the Gate of Carts.

Phoenician letters A TH incised into the rock at Khirbet Dustrey
Phoenician letters A TH incised into the rock at Khirbet Dustrey

On the vertical, eastern quarried wall,  there are two large lapidaric letters A TH incised into the rock, so large that they may be seen from the highway. The letters are Phoenician script, probably the first two signs of the name of the Phoenician settlement.

Le Destroit
Le Destroit

 

Le Destroit Moat
Le Destroit Moat
Le Destroit Moat
Le Destroit Moat

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