New outdoor exhibit showcases rich history of ancient Ashkelon

Ashkelon has over 3,800 years of history.

Outdoor exhibition "Ashkelon - The city and the sea" (photo credit: VLAD LIPSCHITZ/ISRAEL ANTIQUITIES AUTHORITY)
Outdoor exhibition "Ashkelon - The city and the sea"
A new outdoor archaeological exhibition has been inaugurated on the beachfront of Ashkelon, the Israel Antiquities Authority announced Sunday.
The city, located in the southern coastal plain, has more than 3,800 years of history, IAA district archaeologist Sa’ar Ganor told The Jerusalem Post.
“Because of its position, in antiquity, Ashkelon was always an important harbor,” he said. “Like Jerusalem, the city presents remains of its rich history everywhere.”
Already settled during the Neolithic era, around 1,800 BCE, Ashkelon was established as a Canaanite center, whose massive fortifications are still visible at the National Park of Tel Ashkelon. Prominently featured in the Bible as one of the five main Philistine cities, the area continued to function during the Persian and Hellenistic periods, becoming an important port during the Roman period.
“The Romans redesigned it according to their canons, for example, creating a cardo and a decuman street,” Ganor said. “The wine from the area was exported all over the empire. We found its jars in more than 45 sites in Europe and Africa.”
The city continued to live during the Byzantine and early Islamic periods and was an important Crusader center, later destroyed by Muslim and Mamluk troops.
The new exhibition, “Ashkelon – The city and the sea,” features remains dating back to the Roman and Byzantine periods. It is organized by the IAA, the Ashkelon Municipality and the Ashkelon Economic Company.
“Visitors to the exhibition can enjoy very impressive archaeological finds, collected and unearthed in excavations in a city with a glorious past,” IAA curator Ayelet Gruber said in a press release. “This is a direct glimpse into the city of Ashkelon in the Roman and Byzantine periods and the wealth of its inhabitants, its connection to the sea and the cultures behind it.”
The display includes remains of columns, buildings and ships, richly decorated stone sarcophagi and copies of colorful byzantine mosaics.
“We have worked hard to enable the exhibition to present the public with rare and unique items,” Mayor Tomer Glam said. “I invite our residents and everyone else to visit this special exhibition and get to know the fascinating past of Ashkelon.”