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Israel finds structures built by Philistines in Ashdod

By Mason White 1:51 PM August 20, 2013
A Philistine structure in Ashdod 

By: Sarah Weiss
Archaeologists have uncovered several structures built by Philistines in the Israeli city of Ashdod, according to a report by the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Impressive finds have been made at Tel Ashdod-Yam – the harbor of the Philistine city of Ashdod – at the end of the first excavation season by the Tel Aviv University Institute of Archaeology.

The excavations, led by Dr. Alexander Fantalkin, uncovered the remains of a system of fortifications from the 8th century BCE, which encompassed an area including a kind of anchorage. This is a massive wall of mud bricks, which is the main element of a system of internal and external glacis (embankments).

During this period the southern part of the eastern Mediterranean basin was under Assyrian rule, bringing with it power struggles and wars. Philistine Ashdod is cited in Assyrian inscriptions mentioning insurrections and resistance to the Assyrian regime at the end of the 8th century BCE. The Kingdom of Judah, under King Hezekiah, rejected Ashdod’s call to join the insurrection at that time.

In response to the rebellion, Philistine Ashdod was harshly punished and was destroyed by the Assyrian rulers. As a result, the center of gravity passed from Ashdod itself to Ashdod-Yam (some 5 km to the west from Tel Ashdod), where the excavations are now taking place. According to Dr. Fantalkin, it can be assumed that the remains of fortifications that are now being uncovered are related in some way to these events.

Excavations at the site have also found the remains of impressive buildings from the Hellenistic period (the end of the 4th century to the 2nd century BCE), yielding fascinating artifacts including coins and weights. Dr. Fantalkin hopes that based on the infrastructure and lessons learned this season, there are likely to be further interesting finds in future seasons of excavation.

It should be noted that the Ashdod-Yam site has not previously been excavated in an orderly manner, other than a few exploratory digs between 1965-1968 by the late archaeologist, Dr. Yaacov Kaplan.