Tel Keisan

Location & Identification

Tell Keisan, is situated in the central northern basin of the Acco Coastal Plain, approximately 8 km from the Mediterranean Sea. The site, though not directly coastal, is linked to the coastal region through its proximity to the port of Acco. The mound is oval-shaped, covering about 15 acres, and is divided into two parts by a depression.Some scholars hypothesize that at one point in its history it was the city of Achshaph or Biblical Cabul


Bronze Age: Tell Keisan was very large and prosperous in the early and middle Bronze Age. At this time it was fortified with a glacis and stone wall. In the late Bronze Age, the settlement was significantly smallerand a destruction level is distinguishable around the early 12th century  BCE.

Iron Age: It was rebuilt and reoccupied at the beginning of the Iron Age in the second half of the 11th century and appeared successful, It is hypothesized that during the Iron Age it was a Tyrian enclave of Phoenicia  possibly related to the land of Cabul mentioned in the Bible (1 Kg. 9: 11-13).

Neo-Assyrian Period: In the 8th century it was again destroyed and abandoned. Reinhabited in the 7th BCE. where there is archaeological evidence of Neo-Assyrian civilization. It was destroyed again by the end of that century. A Neo-Assyrian cuneiform tablet was found at the site.

Persian & Hellenistic It was reoccupied throughout Persian and Hellenistic periods and again abandoned in the 2nd century BCE.Strabo refers to the city of Acre as once a rendezvous for the Persians in their expeditions against Egypt. According to historians such as Diodorus Siculus and Strabo, King Cambyses II attacked Egypt after massing a huge army on the plains near the city of Acre. In December 2018 archaeologists digging at the site of Tell Keisan unearthed the remains of a Persian military outpost that might have played a role in the successful 525 B.C. Achaemenid invasion of Egypt. The Persian-period fortifications at Tell Keisan were later heavily damaged during Alexander the Great’s fourth-century B.C. campaign to drive the Achaemenids out of the Levant

Byzantine Period: Featured a small settlement around a church built with stones from the Middle Bronze Age II glacis.

Medieval Period: Used as headquarters by Saladin during the siege of Acre in 1187.

History of Excavations

Excavations at Tel Keisan began with G. Garstang in 1935-1936. Political disturbances in 1936 interrupted the work, and the finds were damaged during World War II. Further excavations were initiated in 1971 by the Ecole Biblique et Archeologique Franvaise in Jerusalem.

The current excavations began in 2016 and are co-directed by Prof. David Schloen of the University of Chicago, Prof. Gunnar Lehmann of Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, and Prof. Bernd Schipper of the Humboldt University of Berlin. An international team of 50 to 60 archaeologists and students worked at Tell Keisan in 2016, 2018, and 2019.

Important Findings

  • Silver Hoard The hoard was found in the courtyard of a domestic complex inside of a Phoenician Bichrome jug in Stratum. The hoard includes cut ingots, sheets, wires, rods, jewelry, four linen wrapped bundles of hacksilber sealed with unbaked clay bullae, and loose fragments. The total weight of the hoard was 345g
  • Bronze Age: Fortifications from the Middle Bronze Age II were discovered, indicating the site’s defensive role.
  • Iron Age: Buildings constructed on terraces down the slope, possibly overlaying the city gate of the Middle Bronze Age.
  • Agricultural Evidence: Enclosures for livestock and shepherd shelters from the Iron Age II were found, indicating the site’s agricultural nature.


Stern, Ephraim-New Encyclopedia of Archaeological Excavations in the Holy Land 3-Israel Exploration Society (1993)


Tell Keisan Excavations

Biblical Hiking map