A key site. The hefty southwest tower of Aphek’s Turkish fort testifies to the site’s importance in ancient times. Aphek sits alongside the Via Maris—the “Way of the Sea”—the main trade route along the Mediterranean coast (see map) and also guards a major source of water (the site’s name derives from the word aphik, Hebrew for riverbed). Aphek’s strategic location explains why it had been continuously inhabited since the Chalcolithic period (4500–3250 B.C.).