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A´SCALON (Ἀσκάλων, Ἀσκαλώνιον, Ascalo, Plin. Nat. 5.14.: Eth.Ἀσκαλωνίτης, Eth. Ἀσκαλώνιος, fem. Ἀσκαλωνίς, Steph. B. sub voce Suidas, Hierocles, Ascalona, Ascalonius: Ἀσκυλᾶν), one of the five cities of the Philistines (Josh. 13.3; 1 Sam. 6.17), situated on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea, between Gaza and Jamnia (Joseph. B. J. 4.11.5), 520 stadia (Joseph. B. J. 3.2.1), or 53 M. P., according to the Peutinger Tables, from Jerusalem; and 16 M. P. from Gaza. (Anton. Itin., Ptol. 5.16.) It was taken by the tribe of Judah (Judges, 1.18), but did not remain long in their possession (Judges, 3.3); and during the wars which the Hebrews waged under Saul and David with the Philistines Ascalon appears to have continued in the hands of the native inhabitants. (2 Sam. 1.20.) The prophets devoted it to destruction (Amos, 1.8; Zeph. 2.4, 7; Zech. 9.5; Jer. 25.20, 47.5, 7). After the time of Alexander it shared the fate of Phoenicia and Judaea, and was sometimes subjected to Aegypt (J. AJ 12.425), at other times to the Syrian kings (1 Mac. 10.86; 11.60; 12.33.) i Herod the Great, though it was not in his dominions, adorned the city with fountains, baths, and colonnades. (Joseph. B. J. 1.12.11.) After his death, Ascalon, which had many Jewish inhabitants (B. J. 2.18.5), was given to his sister Salome as a residence. (J. AJ 17.11.5.) It suffered much in the Jewish wars with the Romans. (Joseph. B. J. 2.18.1, 3.22.1.) And its inhabitants slew 2500 of the Jews who dwelt there. (Joseph. B. J. 2.18.5.) In very early times it was the seat of the worship of Derceto (Diod. 2.4), or Syrian Aphrodite, whose temple was plundered by the Scythians (Hdt. 1.105). This goddess, representing the passive principle of nature, was worshipped under the form of a fish with a woman's head. (Comp. Ov. Fast. 2.406.) Josephus (B. J. 3.2.1), speaks of Ascalon as a strongly fortified place. (Comp. Pomp. Mela, 1.11.5.) Strabo xvi. p.759) describes it as a small town, and remarks that it was famous for the shallot (Allium Ascalonicum; French, Echalotte; Italian, Scalogna, a corruption of Ascalonia). (Comp. Plin. Nat. 19.6; Athen. 2.68; Dioscor. 1.24; Columell. 12.10; Theophr. Plant. 7.4.) In the 4th century Ascalon was the see of a bishop, and remained so till the middle of the 7th century, when it fell into the hands of the Saracens. Abúl-fedá (Tab. Syr. p. 78) speaks of it as one of the famous strongholds of Islam (Schultens, Index Geog. s. v. Edrisi, par Jaubert, vol. i. p. 340); and the Orientals speak of it as the Bride of Syria. The coast is sandy, and difficult of access, and therefore it enjoyed but little advantage from its port. It is frequently mentioned in the history of the Crusades. Its fortifications were at length utterly destroyed by Sultan Bibars (A.D. 1270), and its port filled up with stones thrown into the sea, for fear of further attempts on the part of the Crusaders. (Wilken, die Kreuzz, vol. vii. p. 58.)

D'Arvieux, who visited it (A.D. 1658), and Von Troilo, who was there eight years afterwards, describe the ruins as being very extensive. (Rosenmüller, Handbuch der Bibl. Alterthem. vol. ii. pt. 2, p. 383.) Modern travellers represent the situation as strong; the thick walls, flanked with towers, were built on the top of a ridge of rock, that encircles the town, and terminates at each end in the sea. The ground within sinks in the manner of an amphitheatre. Askulân presents now a most mournful scene of utter desolation. (Robinson, Palestine, vol. ii. p. 369.)


hide References (8 total)
  • Cross-references from this page (8):
    • Herodotus, Histories, 1.105
    • Flavius Josephus, Jewish Antiquities, 12.425
    • Flavius Josephus, Jewish Antiquities, 17.11.5
    • Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia, 19.6
    • Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia, 5.14
    • Athenaeus, of Naucratis, Deipnosophistae, 2.68
    • Diodorus, Historical Library, 2.4
    • Ovid, Fasti, 2
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