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Fine Art Photography by Yoav Cohen

Three Thousand Years of History Hidden in Tel Aviv

Israel is well known for the layers of civilization that lie hidden in many places, but some locations might surprise you. Even under the boardwalk of one of the world's most beautiful and modern cities, the remains of empires both ancient and modern can be found among the scooters, yoga mats and coffee shops of Tel Aviv.


At the northern tip of the city's promenade are its secret beaches and the remains of old Sde Dov Airport. What many are not aware of are the historic landmarks in the area, especially in one specific spot.

Reading Lighthouse

So then, how much history can you fit into a single Tel Aviv aerial shot? As it turns out, about 2800 years worth:

  • The remains of Tel Qudadi (top right) date back to the 8th century BCE, possibly even earlier. The fortress was likely part of a string of Assyrian strongolds, built along the coast to monitor maritime activity, guard strategic points, and serve as a trade station for the empire. Abandoned with the fall of the Assyrian Empire, the fortress lay hidden under mounds of sand, until it was discovered almost by mistake. How? We’ll discover in a few lines.

  • On top of Tel Qudadi stands a relic from another empire - a memorial to the British crossing of the Yarkon (or the Auja) River. In December 1917, British forces from New Zealand and Scotland waged battle against the Ottoman Empire for control of the city of Jaffa. In two major river crossings, the British forces forced Turkish soldiers back north, gaining key positions along the river. Three such structures were built to memorialize the battle, and today can be found here, in Ramat Gan and in northern Tel Aviv. The crossing was even captured in a rare film by the British, along with other scenes from Palestine during the Great War.

  • Fast forward just a couple of decades, and in 1935 in the same spot of the historic river crossing, the British began the construction of the Reading Lighthouse. During its construction, Tel Qudadi was first uncovered, but it took three more years, and two years after the construction of the lighthouse, to start the first excavations of the site. The lighthouse itself first acted as a warning light for ships to avoid the shallow and rocky shore. But after the Arab Revolt of 1936, it became the main lighthouse for the new Tel Aviv Port. It functioned until 1966 when the Port finally closed down, and remained unoperational for decades until it re-opened in 2021 as a coffee shop.






The meeting of the Yarkon River and the Mediterranean has indeed seen its fair share of history. One can only wonder what else lies in the same area, and others, that we might still uncover.


Images from this post are available as limited edition prints.

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© 2022 by Yoav Cohen. Created on Editor X.

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Ancient Land. New Perspectives