Ashkelon Through the Ages

Israel Museum, Jerusalem exhibit highlights Ashkelon excavation

As a Mediterranean port city, ancient Ashkelon saw many peoples pass through it. Canaanites, Philistines, Phoenicians, Greeks, Romans and Crusaders were just some of those who walked its streets. The objects they left behind tell an incredible story of these peoples’ ingenuity, strength, entrepreneurship, creativity and determination.


Ashkelon: A Retrospective. 30 Years of the Leon Levy Expedition on display at the Rockefeller Archaeological Museum in Jerusalem. Photo: Elie Posner

Through August 5, 2017, you can see their story at the Israel Museum, Jerusalem exhibit Ashkelon: A Retrospective. 30 Years of the Leon Levy Expedition, which is currently on display at the Rockefeller Archaeological Museum in Jerusalem. Curated by Fawzi Ibrahim, Nurith Goshen and Daniel M. Master, the exhibit walks visitors through the ancient site.


Canaanite silver calf found at Ashkelon. Photo: Megan Sauter

Covering 5,000 years of history, Ashkelon: A Retrospective features statues, coins, jewelry, figurines and pottery—including a Canaanite silver calf found in a shrine next to Ashkelon’s Middle Bronze Age gate (the oldest arched gate in the world) and artifacts from Ashkelon’s recently discovered Philistine cemetery.


Artifacts from Ashkelon’s Philistine cemetery. Photo: Elie Posner

The Leon Levy Expedition to Ashkelon has been excavating the site of Ashkelon since 1985; its final season was 2016. The exhibit features many items from its excavations, along with discoveries from other excavations at Ashkelon from the last two centuries.

megan-sauterMegan Sauter is the Associate Editor at Biblical Archaeology Review. She holds an M.A. in Biblical Archaeology from Wheaton College. This is her fifth season excavating with the Leon Levy Expedition to Ashkelon.

As the point where three of the world’s major religions converge, Israel’s history is one of the richest and most complex in the world. Sift through the archaeology and history of this ancient land in the free eBook Israel: An Archaeological Journey, and get a view of these significant Biblical sites through an archaeologist’s lens.


Related reading in Bible History Daily:

Philistine Cemetery Unearthed at Ashkelon

The Philistine Marketplace at Ashkelon

Where Did the Philistines Come From?

Adornment in the Southern Levant by Josephine Verduci

Iron Age Gate and Fortifications Uncovered at Philistine Gath

The “Philistines” to the North


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  • GENE says

    (Ashʹke·lon) [possibly, Place of Weighing Out (Paying)].

    A seaport on the Mediterranean and one of the five principal Philistine cities. (Jos 13:3) It is identified with ʽAsqalan (Tel Ashqelon) located about 19 km (12 mi) NNE of Gaza. The city was situated in a naturally formed rocky amphitheater, the concave part facing toward the Mediterranean. The countryside is fertile, producing apples, figs, and the small onion known as the scallion, which apparently derives its name from that of the Philistine city.

    Ashkelon was assigned to the tribe of Judah and was captured by them, but it apparently did not remain subject to them for long. (Jg 1:18, 19) It was a Philistine city in the time of Samson and of Samuel. (Jg 14:19; 1Sa 6:17) David mentions it in his lament over the death of Saul and Jonathan. (2Sa 1:20) In King Uzziah’s conquest of Philistine cities, Ashkelon is not listed as among those taken.—2Ch 26:6.

    In the prophecy of Amos (c. 804 B.C.E.) prediction was made of defeat for the ruler of Ashkelon. (Am 1:8) Secular history shows that in the succeeding century Tiglath-pileser III of Assyria made Asqaluna (Ashkelon) a vassal city. Jeremiah (after 647 B.C.E.) uttered two prophecies involving Ashkelon. While Jeremiah 47:2-7 could have seen some fulfillment when Nebuchadnezzar sacked the city early in his reign (c. 624 B.C.E.), the prophecy at Jeremiah 25:17-20, 28, 29 clearly indicates a fulfillment subsequent to the fall of Jerusalem in 607 B.C.E. Zephaniah’s prophecy (written before 648 B.C.E.) also foretold a coming desolation for Ashkelon, along with other Philistine cities, after which the remnant of Judah would eventually occupy “the houses of Ashkelon.” (Zep 2:4-7) Finally, about 518 B.C.E., Zechariah proclaimed doom for Ashkelon in connection with the time of Tyre’s desolation (332 B.C.E.).—Zec 9:3-5.

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