Ashkelon through the Ages, Part II

We left off last time with the history of the city of Ashkelon in the Persian occupation. This only occurred after the city had remained mostly abandoned for about 50 years following Nebuchadnezzar’s destruction. For awhile, they lived happily, burying dogs and digging pits to infuriate archaeologists. Eventually, though, a fabulous Greek by the name of Alexander swept through the Levant and incorporated Ashkelon into his magnificent empire. This began the Hellenistic period of Ashkelon’s life, marked mostly by a change of pottery and a rise in Grecian cultic practices. The Ashkelonites loved the Attic pottery so much that they began running a fairly blatant counterfeit business, selling knockoff Atticware.

Roman Theater, Ashkelon

Roman Theater Built over Hellenistic Fortifications, Ashkelon

But, as Alexander’s empire crumbled, and the Maccabean Revolt passed, the Hasmonean kingdom received Ashkelon for its own, and the formerly Philistine city was in the hands of the Israelites. As Rome rose to power, Ashkelon maintained a form of independence. Cleopatra VII was fond of the city, as it was of her. It welcomed her with open arms when she fled there for refuge for a time, and received a coin minted in her honor. The city was eventually absorbed into the Roman Republic at around 63 BC. In 30 BC, the Idumaean king, Herod the Great, beautified Ashkelon–as was his wont–adding baths and fountains, and his usual enormous pillars.

Byzantine Basilica, Ashkelon

Byzantine Basilica, Ashkelon

Rome faded, and her remnant, the Byzantine Empire took her place. Byzantium ramped up the religion, and even created a map for religious pilgrims called the Madaba Map–featuring such sites as Jerusalem, Bethlehem, and even…Ashkelon. In time, the crusaders came to drive the heathen from the holy sites. A mild fiasco ensued when the Egyptian Fatimid army holed up at Ashkelon and conducted raids against the Kingdom of Jerusalem. The crusaders naturally retaliated, sometimes effectively, sometimes not. Eventually though, in 1191 AD, Saladin leveled the city to prevent the crusaders from regaining a healthy foothold there. The Richards of England renovated it, but only to have it knocked down again in 1270 when the Egyptian Mamluk sultan Baybars decided enough was enough. Ashkelon laid low for the next 400 or so years, disguised as Majdal, until 1953, when it again took back its name and developed into the bustling vacation city it is today.

Crusader Arch, Ashkelon

Crusader Arch, Ashkelon

To summarize, here’s a quick timeline:

Canaanite — 2000-1150 BC

Philistine — 1150-604 BC

Babylonian Destruction — 604 BC

Persian — 604-332 BC

Greek — 332-63 BC

Roman– 63 BC-330 AD

Byzantine — 330-1453 AD

Crusader — 1099-1191 AD

Islamic — 1187-1270 AD

Ottoman to Modern Ashkelon — 1270-Present

Modern Ashkelon from Tel Ashkelon

Modern Ashkelon from Tel Ashkelon

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5 Responses to “Ashkelon through the Ages, Part II”

  1. Buford Craig Says:

    Thanks for your post today. Very interesting reading and good photos. Keep up the good work. May God bless you and keep you. Love from Faye & Buford.

  2. Mike Coward Says:

    Love your messages. So thankful for your experiences. Love you both. Enjoy each day. May The Lord bless you and keep you.

  3. trentandrebekah Says:

    So glad you’re enjoying our posts! We’ve been very blessed by this opportunity!

  4. stevewolfgang Says:

    Reblogged this on ἐκλεκτικός.

  5. Ashkelon Year 2 -and- Photos from Last Year’s Vagabonding Tour | Trent and Rebekah Says:

    […] Ashkelon through the Ages, Part I Ashkelon through the Ages, Part II […]

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