Since 1996, wide-scale archeological excavations have been conducted at the site, but mainly in the Crusader fortress, with a view of turning it into a national park. Portions of the city wall and its eastern gate were found, as were the remains of the fortress" defenses and buildings.
The Crusader city and fortress, now known as Apollonia-Arsuf, were built on a cliff overlooking the Mediterranean Sea, some 15 km. north of modern Tel Aviv.
Excavations conducted periodically since the 1950s have revealed that a settlement was established on the site during the Persian period (6th-5th centuries BCE), known as Arshuf, after the Canaanite-Phoenician god of fertility and the underworld, Reshef. During the Hellenistic period, Reshef was identified with the Greek god Apollo and hence the name Apollonia. The inhabitants of this ancient town produced a special purple dye derived from murex mollusks and exported it, making use of the natural anchorage. During the Roman period, the size of the town increased; the remains of a large, elegant villa constructed in the finest Roman architectural tradition were uncovered. But it was during the Byzantine period that the town became very prosperous, and expanded to cover an area of about 70 acres. The remains of buildings, industrial installations and an elaborate church of this period have been exposed. In the Early Arab period, when the Semitic name Arsuf was restored to the town, its area decreased to about 22 acres and, for the first time, it was surrounded by a fortified wall with buttresses.
Shortly after the Crusaders conquered Jerusalem in 1099, they made their first attempt to capture Arsuf. They failed, because of the lack of a fleet to impose a naval blockade. But in the spring of 1101, after only a short battle, the city fell to the Crusader army commanded by Baldwin I, King of Jerusalem. The Crusaders rebuilt the city wall of Arsur (their way of pronouncing the name) and constructed a fortress on the cliffs overlooking the sea. After the defeat of the Crusaders at the Horns of Hattin in 1187, Arsuf came under Muslim control, but on 7 September 1191, in a battle fought outside the city between the Crusader army under Richard the Lion-Heart and the Muslim army under Salah ed-Din (Saladin) the Muslims were defeated. Arsur was once again ruled by the Crusaders, who refortified it in the mid-13th century. Crusader rule came to an end in 1265, when, after a forty-day siege, the city was conquered by the Mamluk ruler Baibars and the defenders of the fortress surrendered. The Muslims razed the city walls and the fortress to their foundations, fearing a return of the Crusaders. The destruction was so complete that the site has not been resettled since, and over the next several hundred years its remains were covered by earth and wind-blown sand.
The Fortifications of the City
A portion of the city wall of Apollonia-Arsur and a corner tower were exposed in the southeaestern part of the city. The city-wall was 2.2 m. thick, constructed of well-trimmed kurkar blocks and cement. A 9 m.-wide moat protected the wall, its outer edge supported by a stone counter scarp. The city gate was located in the center of the eastern wall. It consisted of two elongated, semi-circular towers that protruded outward from the line of the wall. The towers were widened toward their bases, reaching a diameter of 4.4 m. The 2.2m.-wide gateway was probably reached via a wooden bridge, supported by an arch, over the moat.