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The Crusader Castle of Vadum Iacob, dominates the only possible crossing of the Jordan River between its sources and the Sea of Galillee (map  ) and is located on the main branch of the Via Maris leading to Damascus. The site exhibits several phases of occupation from the Early Bronze to the Ottoman period, although the primary remains date to the Crusader period.

The Crusader castle:
The castle ( figure1  ) was built and destroyed within eleven months, and it was apparently still under construction when destroyed. Details of the final siege and destruction of the site appear in medieval Muslim and Latin chronicles. According to these sources the knights Templars convinced King Baldwin IV to make a general call to arms and to launch a building expedition which commenced in October 1178. Saladin offered the Franks a huge sum of 100,000 gold coins for the cessation of the works but the Franks boldly rejected the offer, claiming that the cost of the initial construction was much higher.  The Muslims attacked the castle after the failure of the negotiations in April 1179 and after it was handed over to the knights Templars, but were unable to prevent the Franks from continuing their works. According to the Latin and Arabic detailed sources the site was a rectangle which was constructed with 20,000 huge a stone each of which was 7 feet long.

The destruction of the castle:
The decisive attack on the site begun on August 24th 1179. The Muslim forces, being commanded by Saladin himself, had to force their way up, by digging steps with their axes. The Templars locked themselves inside the castle and set fire to the outer gates. Finally the Muslim sappers succeeded in breaking through the walls. The defenders asked for a truth, but Saladin refused to grant it. Among the defenders there were 1500 men, 800 were killed and 700 were taken captives. Beside all this Saladin took the armor of about 1000 knights. His soldiers destroyed the castle and threw the corpses of the defenders into a deep well. This last careless operation was probably the cause of a plague which started within 3 days of the conquest causing Saladin and his men to evacuate the site on their way to Damascus.
The Hebrew University of JerusalemThe Hebrew University of Jerusalem