Blanche Garde

Since Aren is quite busy, I (Joe) have decided to post something on the blog – which I haven’t done in a long time. I was thinking of what I could post about, and the truth of the matter is that I had trouble coming up with something that I could write about which Aren hasn’t written about already.

I decided to write about the Crusader period at Safi – something which is quite far from my field of expertise (if I have one of those at all :-)). I looked through the posts on the blog, and noticed that we haven’t written too much about this – primarily due to the fact that not much had been excavated at the site dating to the period. this has changed in the past couple of seasons, with the discovery of part of the Crusader Castle uncovered in Area F (the circular structure in F Upper which you can see in this picture), as well as various finds (for example see this post by Aren on Crusader buttons).  In addition, A quarry was found along the cliffs of the tell which was used in order to build the castle.

The finds from the Crusader Period at the tell are much less extensive than those of the Bronze and Iron Ages.  The Crusader Castle, built at the top of the tell, in an attempt by the Crusaders to surround the Fatimid stronghold of Ashkelon.  The name of the castle – Blanche Garde (meaning something along the lines of the white guard) – is related to the white cliffs surrounding the tell.  These cliffs seem to have been the source for the name of the site in various periods, including the Arabic “Safi” (shining).

I’m sure that there is much more to say about the Crusader period at Tell es-Safi, but that is all that is coming to mind right now.  If anyone wishes to add (or correct) anything to this, please feel free to add comments.


6 thoughts on “Blanche Garde

  1. Avi Woolf

    I’m curious…is there any substantive Ayyubid and/or Mamluk presence at the fortress site (“converting” Crusader castles was common)…


  2. From what we know, there isn’t much human activity at the site in those periods, although the areas of excavation around the castle are quite limited. In the survey, the Mamluk period was very scarcely represented.


  3. Achish Melek Gat

    Jeff here, supervisor of Area F, where Blanche Garde is located. Once we get below the surface in Area F we find a significant amount of Mamluke pottery, but no architectural remains. Part of this seems to be due to the fact that a Crusader cemetery existed in the area where we have opened squares, and the later Arabs were reticent to build there. Area F is located directly northeast of the castle area, and as Joe mentioned, we have excavated a portion of one of its outermost towers. The castle itself, during its use period in the mid 12th century CE, was home to the Crusader Baron named Arnulf, who was known as a shrewd and powerful strongman in the region between Gaza and Jerusalem. More on all of this later. Cheers.



  4. Just a literary note: the castle features in the award winning children’s (we’d call it YA now) historical adventure “Knight Crusader” by Ronald Welch. It’s out of print now, but we all read it as kids.


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