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Rare, Preserved Fortifications Found at the Harbor of Ashdod

An impressive find by the Tel Aviv University Institute of Archaeology uncovers a system of fortifications during its summer excavation.
By Kochava Rozenbaum
First Publish: 8/16/2013, 1:15 AM

Southern Ashdod Harbor
Southern Ashdod Harbor
Flash 90

Rare and unique discoveries were found this summer at the Tel Aviv University Institute of Archaeology excavation site in Tel Ashdod-Yam – located in the harbor city of Ashdod.

The institute uncovered a system of fortifications which date back to the 8th century BCE, the remains of buildings, as well as coins and weights from the Hellenistic period.

The excavations were the first of the season and were led by Dr. Alexander Fantalkin. He discovered the remains of a kind of anchorage, a massive wall made up of mud bricks which form embankments.

Arutz Sheva spoke with Dr. Fantalkin about the excavations:

“We found the system of fortifications extremely well preserved and impressive. This wall, created in the 8th century BCE, is pretty large and was surrounded by ramparts. It’s quite rare to discover such a well preserved sight.”

The history behind Tel Ashdod-Yam is extensive. During the 8th century 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 from 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 yielding fascinating artifacts including coins and weights.

When asked if he intends to further excavate the site, his response was: “Yes, sure; that was the first season of excavation, first of many others. It’s just the beginning. We plan to begin next summer during July and August. I teach at the Tel Aviv University during the academic year so the excavations need to take place in the summer.”

The Ashdod-Yam site has not previously been excavated other than a few exploratory digs between 1965-1968 by the late archaeologist, Dr. Yaacov Kaplan.