Settlements > Ashkelon
Ashkelon was the oldest and largest seaport in Canaan, one of the "five cities" ("pentapolis") of the Philistines, north of Gaza and south of Jaffa (Yafa).
Archaeological site with artifacts from the Neolithic era
The Neolithic site of Ashkelon is located on the Mediterranean coast, 1.5 km (0.93 mi) north of Tel Ashkelon. It is dated by Radiocarbon dating to ca. 7900 bp (uncalibrated), to the poorly known Pre-Pottery Neolithic C phase of the Neolithic. It was discovered and excavated in 1954 by French archaeologist Jean Perrot. In 1997–1998, a large scale salvage project was conducted at the site by Yosef Garfinkel on behalf of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and nearly 1,000 square metres (11,000 sq ft) were examined. A final excavation report was published in 2008.
In the site over a hundred fireplaces and hearths were found and numerous pits, but no solid architecture, except for one wall. Various phases of occupation were found, one atop the other, with sterile layers of sea sand between them. This indicates that the site was occupied on a seasonal basis.
Ashkelon Pre-Pottery Neolithic C flint arrowheads
The main finds were enormous quantities of animal bones (ca. 100,000) and 20,000 flint artifacts. Usually at Neolithic sites flints far outnumber animal bones. The bones belong to domesticated and non-domesticated animals. When all aspects of this site are taken into account, it appears to have been used by pastoral nomads for meat processing. The nearby sea could supply salt necessary for the conservation of meat.
Ashqelon as mentioned on Merneptah Stele: iskeluni-(using hieroglyphs n, and two–determ.)
The city was originally built on a sandstone outcropping and has a good underground water supply. It was relatively large as an ancient city with as many as 15,000 people living inside the walls. Ashkelon was a thriving Middle Bronze Age (2000–1550 BC) city of more than 150 acres (61 ha). Its commanding ramparts, measuring 1.5 miles (2.4 km) long, 50 feet (15 m) high and 150 feet (46 m) thick,, and even as a ruin they stand two stories high. The thickness of the walls was so great that the mudbrick city gate had a stone-lined, 8 feet (2.4 m) wide tunnel-like barrel vault, coated with white plaster, to support the superstructure: it is the oldest such vault ever found. Later Roman and Islamic fortifications, faced with stone, followed the same footprint, a vast semicircle protecting Ashkelon on the land side. On the sea it was defended by a high natural bluff. A roadway more than 20 feet (6.1 m) in width ascended the rampart from the harbor and entered a gate at the top.
In 1991 the ruins of a small ceramic tabernacle was found a finely cast bronze statuette of a bull calf, originally silvered, 4 inches (10 cm) long. Images of calves and bulls were associated with the worship of the Canaanite gods El and Baal.
Ashkelon is mentioned in the Egyptian Execration Texts of the 11th dynasty as "Asqanu." In the Amarna letters (c. 1350 BC), there are seven letters to and from Ashkelon's (Ašqaluna) king Yidya, and the Egyptian pharaoh. One letter from the pharaoh to Yidya was discovered in the early 1900s.
The Philistines conquered Canaanite Ashkelon about 1150 BC. Their earliest pottery, types of structures and inscriptions are similar to the early Greek urbanised centre at Mycenae in mainland Greece, adding weight to the hypothesis that the Philistines were one of the populations among the "Sea Peoples" that upset cultures throughout the eastern Mediterranean at that time.
Ashkelon became one of the five Philistine cities that were constantly warring with the Israelites and the Kingdom of Judah. According to Herodotus, its temple of Venus was the oldest of its kind, imitated even in Cyprus, and he mentions that this temple was pillaged by marauding Scythians during the time of their sway over the Medes (653–625 BC). As it was the last of the Philistine cities to hold out against Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar II. When it fell in 604 BC, burnt and destroyed and its people taken into exile, the Philistine era was over.
The name Ashkelon is probably western Semitic, and might be connected to the root š-q-l ("to weigh" from a Semitic root ṯql, akin to Hebrew šāqal שָקַל or Arabic θiql ثِقْل "weight") perhaps attesting to its importance as a center for mercantile activities. Scallion and shallot are derived from Ascalonia, the Latin name for Ashkelon.
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Kafkafi, Eyal (1998). "Segregation or Integration of the Israeli Arabs: Two Concepts in Mapai". International Journal of Middle East Studies. 30 (3): 347–367. doi:10.1017/S0020743800066216.
Townsend, Christopher (2006). God's War: A New History of the Crusades. Penguin Books ltd. ISBN 978-0-7139-9220-5.
Garfinkel, Y.; Dag, D.; Hesse, B.; Wapnish, P.; Rookis, D.; Hartman, G.; Bar-Yosef, D.E.; Lernau, O. (2005). "Neolithic Ashkelon: Meat Processing and Early Pastoralism on the Mediterranean Coast". Eurasian Prehistory. 3: 43–72.
Y. Garfinkel and D. Dag. 2008. Neolithic Ashkelon. Qedem 47. Jerusalem: Institute of Archaeology, Hebrew University.
External links Wikimedia Commons has media related to Ashkelon. Wikivoyage has a travel guide for Ashkelon.
Ashkelon City Council
"Ashkelon, ancient city of the sea", National Geographic, January 2001
Ancient Ashkelon—University of Chicago
Pictures of Ashkelon—Holy Land Pictures