An Enormous Neo-Assyrian Compound and A Unique Byzantine Church in Israel

The fate of Ashdod-Yam was always connected to the capital city of Ashdod, one of the five major Philistine cities during the Iron Age. After Ashdod revolted against the Assyrians in the late 8th century B.C., the army of the Neo-Assyrian king Sargon II took over the cities Ashdod, Gath, and Asdudimmu; the latter is identified with the site of Ashdod-Yam (Ashdod-by-the-Sea).

This summer, join the international team, which intends to continue the excavations of the Iron Age compound at Ashdod-Yam to find out what happened when the Assyrians crushed Ashdod and expanded the nearby city of Ashdod-Yam. During a new excavation season, we will continue with the exposure of the Assyrian administrative buildings and the enormous system of fortifications from the Iron Age IIB (8th–7th centuries B.C.), discovered earlier. The excavations will shed light on the modes of Assyrian imperial control of subjected areas, clarifying the nature of interaction between different peoples in the Mediterranean melting pot at Ashdod-Yam.

Ashdod-Yam is known in classical sources as Azotos Paralios, being one of the most important coastal cities in Palestine during the Byzantine period (as it is shown in the Madaba Map). In 2019, we shall continue the excavation of the unique Byzantine church discovered during the last season. Its inscriptions have provided the possible first evidence of a Georgian Christian presence on the coastal shores of the Holy Land.


Geographic Location

On the Mediterranean coast in modern Ashdod, 3 miles northwest of Tel Ashdod

Periods of Occupation

Bronze Age through Crusader period Current Dig: Iron Age II, Hellenistic, Byzantine

Dates of the Dig


Minimum Stay

2 Weeks

Application Due


Academic Credit/Cost per Credit/Institution

Up to 6 credits available — Tel Aviv University

Open For Tours

Yes - by appointment


2,500 NIS (New Israeli Shekel) per week. Two weeks: 5000 NIS; three weeks (reduced): 7,300 NIS; four weeks (reduced): 9,500 NIS.


Alexander Fantalkin

Dr. Alexander Fantalkin teaches in the Department of Archaeology and Ancient Near Eastern Cultures at Tel Aviv.

Angelika Berlejung

Dr. Angelika Berlejung teaches in the Department of Theology at the University of Leipzig (Germany) and Department of Ancient Near Eastern Studies at Stellenbosch University (South Africa).


Dr. Alexander Fantalkin
Department of Archaeology & Ancient Near Eastern Cultures
Tel Aviv University
Ramat Aviv, Tel Aviv 69978, Israel
Phone: +972-54-5721866
[email protected]