TEL AVIV, Israel, Sept. 15 (UPI) -- An ancient Mediterranean seaside fortress in Israel was a final stronghold of early Islamic power in the region, archaeologists say.
Yavneh-Yam, an archaeological site between the Israeli cities of Tel Aviv and Ashdod, was known to be a functioning harbor port from the second millennium B.C. until the Middle Ages, researchers at Tel Aviv University said.
But the recent discovery of a bath house that made use of Roman techniques such as heated floors and walls shows Arabic rulers maintained control of the site up until the end of the Early Islamic period in the 12th century A.D.
The architectural feature demonstrates Arabic control was maintained in Yavneh-Yam at a time when 70 percent of the surrounding land was in the hands of Christian crusaders, TAU archaeologist Moshe Fischer said in a university release Thursday.
The crusaders did not build these types of baths, Fischer said, and after the end of the Early Islamic period they disappear altogether.
Arabic sources from the period suggest the fortress was used for hostage exchange negotiations between the Arabic powers and the Christian crusaders, said Fischer, who has been excavating the site for 20 years.
Connecting the new archaeological findings with historical evidence gives "a nice picture of the complex relationship that existed in the Holy Land between a handful of Muslim enclaves, connected with the Arab rule in Cairo, surrounded by crusaders," he said.