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SARṬABA (Alexandrium ), fortress, probably built by Alexander *Yannai and named after him According to Josephus, it was located near Coreae in the Jordan Valley (Ant., 14:49, 83). Situated on the top of a high mountain, it was exceptionally well supplied (Jos., Wars, 1:134). Here *Aristobulus ii surrendered to Pompey in 63 b.c.e. It later served as a stronghold of the nationalist opposition to Rome. Gabinus besieged *Alexander, the son of Aristobulus there (ibid., 1:161ff.), after which the fortress was demolished. Pheroras, Herod's brother, refortified it (Jos., Ant., 14:419; Wars, 1:308). Under Herod it served for the safekeeping of his wife Mariamne, who later buried his sons there after they had been executed on Herod's orders (Jos., Ant., 16:394; Wars, 1:551). It apparently also served for the burial of several other members of the Hasmonean dynasty. The place is not mentioned in accounts of the Jewish War against Rome. According to the Mishnah, it was one of the stations for the transmission of signals announcing the new moon and holidays from Jerusalem to Babylonia (rh 2:4; cf. Tosef., 2:2). Alexandrium is identified with Qarn Sarṭaba, a dominating peak overlooking the Jordan Valley, S.E. of Nablus (1,244 ft. – c. 379 m. above sea level; 2,388 ft. – c. 728 m. above the Jordan Valley). The remains include walls of bossed masonry, the style typical of the Hasmonean period, a cistern, and traces of an aqueduct. Excavations at the fortress were conducted at the site by Y. Tsafrir and Y. Magen between 1981 and 1983, with the discovery of the remains of a monumental peristyle hall and other remains, including an inscribed ostraca mentioning a "Pinchas" and a "Levi." The aqueduct leading to the site and other remains in the hinterland of the fortress were investigated by D. Amit.


Abel, in: rb, 22 (1913), 228ff.; Schmidt, in: jbl, 29 (1910), 77ff.; Moulton, in: basor, 62 (1936), 15ff. add. bibliography: Y. Tsafrir and Y. Magen, "Two Seasons of Excavations at the Sartaba/Alexandrium Fortress," in: Qadmoniot, 17 (1984), 26–32; D. Amit, "Water Supply to the Alexandrium Fortress (Sartaba)," in: D. Amit et al., The Aqueducts of Ancient Palestine (1989), 215–21; Y. Tsafrir, L. Di Segni, and J. Green, Tabula Imperii Romani. IudaeaPalaestina: Maps and Gazetteer (1994), 60–61, s.v. "Alexandrion."

[Michael Avi-Yonah /

Shimon Gibson (2nd ed.)]