(Heb. Aisko, עִכּוֹ, from an Arab. root signifying to be hot [see Drummond, Origines, v. 3], referring to the sultry sand in the neighborhood, used by the Phoenicians in the manufacture of glass [Pliny, v. 19; Strabo, 16:877]; Sept. Α᾿κχώ, Josephus, ῎῎Ακη, Ant. 9, 14, 2), a town and haven within the nominal territory of the tribe of Asher, which, however, never acquired possession of it (Jg 1:31). It is, perhaps, likewise mentioned in Mic 1:10 (בָּכוֹ, prob. בִּכּוֹ for בּעִכּוֹ, in Accho; Sept. ἐν Α᾿κεἰμ, Vulg. lachrymis, Auth. Vers. "at all;" see Henderson, Comment. in loc.). The Greek and Roman writers call it '῎Ακη, Ace (Strab. 16:877; Diod. Sic. 19:93; C. Nep. 14:5); but it was eventually better known as Ptolemais (Pliny Hist. Nat. 5, 19), which name it received from the first Ptolemy, king of Egypt, by whom it was much improved. By this name it is mentioned in the Apocrypha (1 Maccabees 10:56; 11:22, 24; 12:45, 48; 2 Maccabees 13:14), in the New Testament (Ac 21:7), and by Josephus (Ant. 13, 12, 2 sq.). It was also called Colonia Claudii Casaris, in consequence of its receiving the privileges of a Roman city from the emperor Claudius (Pliny 5:17; 36:65). It continued to be called Ptolemais by the Greeks of the lower empire, as well as by Latin authors; while the Orientals adhered to the original designation (see Mishna, Abadah Zarah, 3, 4; Lightfoot, Hor. Heb. p. 117), which it still retains in the form Akka. During the Crusades the place was usually known to Europeans by the name of Acon; afterward, from the occupation of the Knights of St. John of Jerusalem, as St. Jean d'Acre, or simply Acre. The Romans at a late date appear to have called it also Ptolemaida (the accusative being transformed into a nominative); at least the name appears in this form in the Itin. Antonin. and Hierosol. The Greeks themselves, although using the name Ptolemais, were evidently aware of the original Hebrew (i.e. Phoenician) name Accho, which they merely Graecized into Ace. Thus, the authors of the Etymologicuem Magnum, say, "Ace, a city of Phoenicia, which is now called Ptolemais. Some say that the citadel of Ptolemais was called Ace because Hercules, being bitten by a serpent and there cured, named it so, from ἀκεῖσθαι [to heal]." Other ancient authors speak of the place by the same name, and some of them allude to the same fable as the origin of the name (Reland, Palest. p. 536, 537). These, however, were evidently but speculations common to the mythology of the Greeks, who were fond of giving Greek terminations as well as Greek derivations to foreign terms. SEE PTOLEMAIS.
This famous harbor-city is situated in N. lat. 32o 55', and E. long. 35o 5', and occupies the north-western point of a commodious bay, called the bay of Acre, the opposite or south-western point of which is formed by the promontory of Mount Carmel. The city lies on the plain to which it gives its name. Inland the hills, which from Tyre southward press close upon the sea-shore, gradually recede, leaving in the immediate neighborhood of Accho a plain of remarkable fertility about six miles broad, and watered by the small river Belus (Nahr Naman), which discharges itself into the sea close under the walls of the town; to the S.E. the still receding heights afford access to the interior in the direction of Sepphoris. Accho, thus favorably placed in command of the approaches from the north, both by sea and land, has been justly termed the "key of Palestine." The bay, from the town of Acre to the promontory of Mount Carmel, is three leagues wide. The port, on account of its shallowness, can only be entered by vessels of small burden (Prokesch, p. 146); but there is excellent anchorage on the other side of the bay, before Haifa, which is, in fact, the roadstead of Acre (Turner, 2:111; G. Robinson, 1:198). In the time of Strabo Accho was a great city (16, p. 877), and it has continued to be a place of importance down to the present time. But after the Turks gained possession of it, Acre so rapidly declined, that the travelers of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries concur in describing it as much fallen from its former glory of which, however, traces still remained. The missionary Eugene Roger (La Terre Saincte, 1645, p. 44-46) remarks that the whole place had such a sacked and desolate appearance that little remained worthy of note except the palace of the grand-master of the Knights Hospitallers and the church of St. Andrew; all the rest was a sad and deplorable ruin, pervaded by a pestiferous air which soon threw strangers into dangerous maladies. The emir Fakr-ed-din had, however, lately built a commodious khan for the use of the merchants; for there was still considerable traffic, and vessels were constantly arriving from France Venice, England, and Holland, laden with oil, cotton, skins, and other goods. The emir had also built a strong castle, notwithstanding repeated orders from the Porte to desist. Roger also fails not to mention the immense stone balls, above a hundred-weight, which were found in the ditches and among the ruins, and which were thrown into the town from machines before the use of cannon. This account is confirmed by other travelers, who add little or nothing to it (Doublan, Cotovicus, Zuallart, Morison, Nau, D'Arvieux, and others). Morison, however, dwells more on the ancient remains, which consisted of portions of old walls of extraordinary height and thickness, and of fragments of buildings, sacred and secular, which still afforded manifest tokens of the original magnificence of the place. He affirms (2, 8) that tie metropolitan church of St. Andrew was equal to the finest of those he had seen in France and Italy, and that the church of St. John was of the same perfect beauty, as might be seen by the pillars and vaulted roof, half of which still remained. An excellent and satisfactory account of the place is given by Nau (liv. 5, ch. 19), who takes particular notice of the old and strong vaults on which the houses are built. Maundrell mentions that the town appears to have been encompassed on the land side by a double wall, defended with towers at small distances; and that without the walls were ditches, ramparts, and a kind of bastions faced with hewn stone (Journey, p. 72). Pococke speaks chiefly of the ruins (East, 2, 176 sq.). After the impulse given to the prosperity of the place by the measures of sheik Daher, and afterward of Djezzar Pasha, the descriptions differ (Clarke, Trav. 2, 379). It is mentioned by Buckingham (1, 116) that, in sinking the ditch in front of the then (1816) new outer wall, the foundations of small buildings were exposed, twenty feet below the present level of the soil, which must have belonged to the earliest ages, and probably formed part of the original Accho. He also thought that traces of Ptolemais might be detected in the shafts of gray and red granite and marble pillars, which lie about or have been converted into thresholds for large doorways, of the Saracenic period; some partial remains might be traced in the inner walls; and he is disposed to refer to that time the now old khan, which, as stated above, was really built by the emir Fakr-ed-din. All the Christian ruins mentioned by the travelers already quoted had disappeared. In actual importance, however, the town had much increased. The population in 1819 was computed at 10,000, of whom 3000 were Turks, the rest Christians of various denominations (Connor, in Jowett, 1, 423). Approached from Tyre the city presented a beautiful appearance, from the trees in the inside, which rise above the wall, and from the ground immediately around it on the outside being planted with orange, lemon, and palm trees. Inside, the streets had the usual narrowness and filth of Turkish towns; the houses solidly built with stone, with flat roofs; the bazaars mean, but tolerably well supplied (Turner, 2, 113). The principal objects were the mosque, the pasha's seraglio, the granary, and the arsenal (Irby and Mangles, p. 195). Of the mosque, which was built by Djezzar Pasha, there is a description by Pliny Fisk (Life, p. 337; also G. Robinson, 1, 200). The trade was not considerable; the exports consisted chiefly of grain and cotton, the produce of the neighboring plain; and the imports chiefly of rice, coffee, and sugar from Damietta (Turner, 2, 112). As thus described, the city was all but demolished in 1832 by the hands of Ibrahim Pasha; and although considerable pains were taken to restore it, yet, as lately as 1837, it still exhibited a most wretched appearance, with ruined houses and broken arches in every direction (Lord Lindsay, Letters, 2, 81). It is only important at present as a military post, and all its municipal regulations are according to the laws of war (Thomson, Land and Book, 1, 480). See Rey, L'Acre (Par. 1879).
Accho continued to belong to the Phoenicians (Strabo 2, 134; Pliny 5, 17; Ptolmy 5, 15) until they, in common with the Jews, were subjugated by the Babylonians (comp. 1 Maccabees 5:15). By the latter it was doubtless maintained as a military station against Egypt, as it was afterward by the Persians (Strabo, 16, p. 877). In the distribution of Alexander's dominions Accho fell to the lot of Ptolemy Soter, who valued the acquisition, and gave it his own name. In the wars that ensued between Syria and Egypt, it was taken by Antiochus the Great (Ptolmy 5, 62), and attached to his kingdom. When the Maccabees established themselves in Judaea, it became the base of operations against them (1 Maccabees 5:15, 55). Simon drove his enemies back within its walls, but did not take it (1 Maccabees 5:22). In the endeavor of Demetrius Soter and Alexander Balas to bid highest for the support of Jonathan, the latter gave Ptolemais and the lands around to the temple at Jerusalem (10, 1, 39). Jonathan was afterward invited to meet Alexander and the king of Egypt at that place, and was treated with great distinction by them (10, 56-66); but there he at length (B.C. 144) met his death through the treachery of Tryphon (12, 48-50). On the decay of the Syrian power it was one of the few cities of Judaea which established its independence. Alexander Jannseus took advantage of the civil war between Antiochus Philometer and Antiochus Cyzicenus to besiege Ptolemais, as the only maritime city in those parts. except Gaza, which he had not subdued; but the siege was raised by Ptolemy Lathyrus (then king of Cyprus), who got possession of the city (Josephus, Ant. 13, 12, 2-6), of which he was soon deprived by his mother, Cleopatra (13, 13, 2). She probably gave it, along with her daughter Selene, to Antiochus Grypus, king of Syria. At least, after his death, Selene held possession of that and some other Phoenician towns, after Tigranes, king of Armenia, had acquired the rest of the kingdom (13, 16, 4). But an injudicious attempt to extend her dominions drew upon her the vengeance of that conqueror, who, in B.C. 70, reduced Ptolemais, and, while thus employed, received with favor the Jewish embassy which was sent by queen Alexandra, with valuable presents, to seek his friendship (13, 16, 4). A few years after, Ptolemais was absorbed, with all the country, into the Roman empire, and the rest of its ancient history is obscure and of little note. It is only mentioned in the New Testament from Paul's having spent a day there on his voyage to Coesarea (Ac 21:7). The importance acquired by the last-named city through the mole constructed by Herod, and the safe harbor thus formed, must have had some effect on the prosperity of Ptolemais; but it continued a place of importance, and was the seat of a bishopric in the first ages of the Christian Church. The see was filled sometimes by orthodox and sometimes by Arian bishops; and it has the equivocal distinction of having been the birthplace of the Sabellian heresy (Niceph. 6:7). Accho (or Acco as the Latins style it) was an imperial garrison town when the Saracens invaded Syria, and was one of those that held out until Caesarea was taken by Armu, in A. D. 638 (Mod. Univ. Hist. 1, 473).
The Franks first became masters of it in A.D. 1104, when it was taken by Baldwin, king of Jerusalem. But in A.D. 1187 it was recovered by Salah- ed-din, who retained it till A.D. 1191, when it was retaken by the Christians under Richard Coeur-de-Lion. The Christians kept it till A.D. 1291; and it was the very last place of which they were dispossessed. It had been assigned to the Knights Hospitallers of Jerusalem, who fortified it strongly, and defended it valiantly, till it was at length wrested from them by Khalil ben-Kelaoun, sultan of Egypt, who is called Melek Seruf by Christian writers (D'Herbelot, 5, Acca; Will. Tyr. 1, 23, c. 6, 7; Vitriacus, cap. 25, 99, 100; Quaresmius, tom. 2, p. 897). Under this dominion it remained till A.D. 1517, when the Mameluke dynasty was overthrown by Selim 1, and all its territories passed to the Turks (Chronica de Syria, lib. 5, cap. 1; Alod. Utiv. Hist. b. 15, c. 10, § 2). After this Acre remained in quiet obscurity till the middle of the last century, when the Arab sheik Daher took it by surprise. Under him the place recovered some of its trade and importance. He was succeeded by the barbarous but able tyrant, Djezzar Pasha, who strengthened the fortifications and improved the town. Under him it rose once more into fame, through the gallant and successful resistance which, under the direction of Sir Sidney Smith, it offered to the arms of Bonaparte. After that the fortifications were further strengthened, till it became the strongest place in all Syria. In 1832 the town was besieged for nearly six months by Ibrahim Pasha, during which 35,000 shells were thrown into it, and the buildings were literally beaten to pieces (Hogg's Damascus, p. 160-166). It had by no means recovered from this calamity, when on the 3d of November 1840, it was bombarded by the English fleet till the explosion of the powder-magazine destroyed the garrison, and town (Napier's War in Syria). The walls and castles have since been repaired more strongly than ever; but the interior remains in ruins (Thomson. Land and Book, 1, 479).
There are several medals of Accho, or Ptolemais, both Greek and Latin. Most of the former have also the Phoenician name of the city, עכ, Ak (see Gesenius, Mon. Phoen. p. 269,270, pl. 35), and the head of Alexander the Great, apparently in consequence of favors received from that prince, perhaps at the time when he was detained in Syria by the siege of Tyre. From others it appears that the city assumed the privilege of asylum and of sanctity; and that it possessed a temple of Diana. (For the ancient history of Acre, see Reland, Paloest, p. 534-542; for its modern history and appearance, see M'Culloch's Gazetteer, s.v. Acre; comp. Schwarz, Palest, p. 195: Thomson, Land and Book, 1, 477 sq. Arvieux, 1, 241 sq.; Schulz, Leitungen, 5, 181 sq.; Niebuhr, Trav. 3, 72: Richter, Wallf. p. 67 sq.; Rosenmüller, Alterth. II, 2, 60 sq.; Wilson, Lands of Bible, 2, 233 sq.; Van de Velde, Narrative, 1, 247 sq.; Conybeare and Howson, 2:231). SEE PHOENICIA.