Ashkelon Excavations

| April 20, 2013 | 0 Comments
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Ashkelon National Park: Tel Ashkelon

Ashkelon is one of the world’s oldest cities and the remains of about 20 cities buried one on top of another have been found at Tel Ashkelon, dating from 3500 BCE to 1500 CE – about 5,000 years. The remains at Tel Ashkelon are within the boundaries of Ashkelon National Park, a heritage site managed by the Israel Nature and Parks Authority (NPA).

Ashkelon Excavations

Upside-Down Ruins (Photo: Buvoed, CC BY 3.0)

This fascinating open-air history and archaeology museum with grassy lawns and old trees is situated right on the beautiful Ashkelon coast. The park gives you a chance to explore historical and archaeological finds and at the same time offers you recreational pastimes at the beautiful beach, picnic area and campgrounds. The beach is also the site of the ancient port.

As you enter the park at the main entrance, you’ll pass through remains of Crusaders’ walls and Canaanite ramparts. The park has remains from the Canaanite period from 4,000 years ago, including an arched city gate said to be the oldest in the world. The park also has sculpted idols and a basilica government building from the Roman period. Not all of the finds are on display in the park. Two fascinating discoveries not on display in the park point to a possible Jewish presence in Ashkelon during the Byzantine period. One was a seven-branched menorah, a lulav (palm branch), and a shofar (ram’s horn) carved on the lattice of a synagogue. The other discovery was a menorah, etrog (citron), and shofar carved on the base of a marble column from a fourth-century synagogue.

Ashkelon: The Oldest Arched Gate in the World

The Oldest Arched Gate in the World (Photo: צילום:ד”ר אבישי טייכר, CC BY 2.5)

Ashkelon History

A sculpture of a bronze calf overlaid with silver from the Canaanite period representing the false god Ba’al was found and was part of the pagan Canaanite rites. This calf is on display in the Israel Museum in Jerusalem and a replica of it is on display in the Ashkelon Museum. This was no doubt similar to the golden calf idol made by the Israelites in the wilderness after Moses left them for 40 days when he went up to commune with G-d on Mt. Sinai.

Two water wheels and about 60 wells have been found in the park. In fact, at two of the wells an ancient antilia pump – once powered by a camel, a donkey or perhaps an ox – was restored. You can also view remains of the Byzantine Santa Maria Viridis Church that was destroyed in 958 CE and then rebuilt by the Crusaders.

For further information about Ashkelon National Park email moked@npa.org.il or call *3639.

 

Ashkelon Excavations: Sheik’s Grave

The Sheik’s Grave (Photo: חלי, CC BY 2.5)

Ashkelon Dig: Archeological Park

Nestled among Ashkelon’s residential neighborhoods and the old city are other archeological remains. On Tzvi Segal Street in the Barnea neighborhood are the remains of two Byzantine churches, one of which has a mosaic floor with quotes in Greek from the psalms.

The Archeological Park on Hagefen Street in the Afridar neighborhood has two light-colored marble Roman coffin covers and other items. For further information call: (08) 673-4019.

North of the Marina on the beach is a Mameluk domed-roof Sheik’s Grave.


Ashkelon Excavations:
Did You Know?

At Tel Hachra, a small hill in Ashkelon by the sea, is a very unusual cemetery from the 4th or 5th century BCE that contains the skeletons of 1,500 dogs. So far, no one has been able to figure out this mystery.

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Category: Archaeological, Ashkelon, Beaches, Historical, Parks

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