Settlements > Ashdod
Stone AgeThree stone tools dating from the Neolithic era were discovered, but no other evidence of a Stone Age settlement in Ashdod was found, suggesting that the tools were deposited here in a later period.Bronze and Iron AgesThe site of Ashdod in the Bronze Age and Iron Ages was at a tell just south of the modern city. It was excavated by archaeologists in nine seasons between 1962 and 1972. The effort was led during the first few years by David Noel Freedman of the Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and Moshe Dothan. The remaining seasons were headed by Dothan for the Israel Antiquities Authority.The earliest major habitation in Ashdod dates to the 17th century BCE, when the acropolis of the tell was fortified. Ashdod is first mentioned in written documents from Late Bronze Age Ugarit, which indicate that the city was a center of export for dyed woolen purple fabric and garments. At the end of the 13th century BCE the Sea Peoples conquered and destroyed Ashdod. By the beginning of the 12th century BCE, the Philistines, generally thought to have been one of the Sea Peoples, ruled the city. During their reign, the city prospered and was a member of the Philistine Pentapolis, which included Ashkelon and Gaza on the coast and Ekron and Gath farther inland, in addition to Ashdod.In 950 BCE Ashdod was destroyed during Pharaoh Siamun's conquest of the region. The city was not rebuilt until at least 815 BCE.Asdûdu led the revolt of Philistines, Judeans, Edomites, and Moabites against Assyria after expulsion of king Ahimiti, whom Sargon had installed instead of his brother Azuri. Gath (Gimtu) belonged to the kingdom of Ashdod at that time. Assyrian king Sargon II's commander-in-chief (turtanu), whom the King James Bible calls simply "Tartan",Isaiah 20:1 regained control of Ashdod in 712/711 BCE and forced the usurper Yamani to flee. Sargon's general destroyed the city and exiled its residents, including some Israelites who were subsequently settled in Media and Elam.Mitinti was king at the time of Sargon's son Sennacherib (r. 705–681 BCE), and Akhimilki in the reign of Sennacherib's son Esarhaddon (r. 681–669 BCE).Psamtik I of Egypt (r. 664 – 610 BCE) is reported to have besieged the great city Azotus for twenty-nine years (Herodotus, ii. 157); the biblical references to the remnant of Ashdod (Jeremiah 25:20; cf Zephaniah 2:4) are interpreted as allusions to this event.The city absorbed another blow in 605 BCE, when Nebuchadnezzar conquered it.In 539 BCE the city was rebuilt by the Persians. In 332 BCE but was conquered in the wars of Alexander the Great.In the Book of Nehemiah, the Ashdodites seem to represent the whole nation of the Philistines in the sixth century BCE, the speech of Ashdod (which half of the children from mixed families are described as adopting) would simply be the general Philistine dialect. Hugo Winckler explains the use of that name by the fact that Ashdod was the nearest of the Philistine cities to Jerusalem.In the Hebrew BibleThere are Biblical episodes referencing Ashdod but they remain uncorroborated by archaeological finds:Upon Joshua's conquest of the Promised Land, Ashdod was allotted to the Tribe of Judah (Book of Joshua 15:46).In I Samuel 6:17 Ashdod is mentioned among the principal Philistine cities. After capturing the Ark of the covenant from the Israelites, the Philistines took it to Ashdod and placed it in the temple of Dagon. The next morning Dagon was found prostrate before the Ark; on being restored to his place, he was on the following morning again found prostrate and broken. The people of Ashdod were smitten with boils; a plague of mice was sent over the land (1 Samuel 6:5).According to the Bible, during the 10th century BCE Ashdod became, along with all the kingdom of Philistia, a patronage area of the Kingdom of Israel under the control of King David.The capture of the city by King Uzziah of Judah shortly after 815 BCE is mentioned within 2 Chronicles (26:6) and in the Book of Zechariah (9:6), speaking of the false Jews.In the Book of Nehemiah (Nehemiah 13:23–24), some 5th century BCE residents of Jerusalem are said to have married women from Ashdod, and half of the children of these unions were reportedly unable to understand Hebrew; instead, they spoke "the language of Ashdod".Hellenistic periodFurther information: Ashdod-SeaOnce Hellenised, the city changed its name to the more Greek-sounding Αzotus (Greek: Άζωτος) and prospered until the Hasmonean Revolt. During the rebellion Judas Maccabeus "took it, and laid it waste" (Antiquities of the Jews Book 12, 8:6) His brother Jonathan conquered it again in 147 BCE and destroyed the temple of Dagon of biblical fame (Antiquities Book 13, 4:4; 1 Samuel 5:1-5). During the rule of Alexander Jannæus, Ashdod was part of his territory (Antiquities Book 13, 15:4).Roman and Byzantine periodsAfter the destruction wreaked during the succession wars between Hyrcanus II and Aristobulus II, Pompey restored the independence of Azotus, as he did with all Hellenising coastal cities (Antiquities Book 14, 4:4). A few years later, in 55 BCE, after more fighting, Roman general Gabinius helped rebuild Ashdod and several other cities left without protective walls (Antiquities Book 14, 5:2). In 30 BCE Ashdod came under the rule of King Herod, who then bequeathed it to his sister Salome (Antiquities Book 17, 8:1). By the time of the First Jewish–Roman War (66-70), there must have been a large enough Jewish presence in Ashdod for Vespasian to feel compelled to place a garrison in the city.Despite its location four miles (6 km) from the coast, Ptolemy (c. 90 – c. 168 CE) described it as a maritime city, as did Josephus in Antiquities Book 13, 15:4. The same Josephus though describes Ashdod as "in the inland parts" (Antiquities Book 14, 4:4). This curious contradiction may refer to Ashdod's control of a separate harbor, called Azotus Paralios, or Ashdod-on-the-Sea (παράλιος - "paralios", Greek for "on the coast"). The landlocked city was called by the Romans Hippinos, "of the horsemen", and by the Greeks until late in the medieval period, Azotus mesogaios or "inland Azotus".During the Byzantine period, the port city overshadowed its inland counterpart in size and importance. The 6th-century Madaba Map is showing both under their respective names.