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Ashqelon(ăsh`kəlŏn), city (1994 pop. 80,100), SW Israel, on the Mediterranean Sea. It is a beach resort in an area of citrus groves and cotton plantations. Ashqelon's industries process agricultural products and manufacture cement, plastics, electronic equipment, and watches. Nearby is the site of ancient Ashqelon, or Ashkelon, whose history dates back to the 3d millenium B.C. It was a trade center and port and a seat of worship of the goddess AstarteAstarte
, Semitic goddess of fertility and love. She was the most important goddess of the Phoenicians and corresponds to the Babylonian Ishtar and the Greek Aphrodite. She took a dominant place in Middle Eastern religions, and the Jews strictly forbade use of her name.
..... Click the link for more information. . Ancient Ashkelon was conquered by the PhilistinesPhilistines
, inhabitants of Philistia, a non-Semitic people who came to Palestine from a region in the Mediterranean in the 12th cent. B.C. Genetic studies in the 21st cent.
..... Click the link for more information. in the late 12th cent. B.C. and completely rebuilt. Ashkelon flourished under the Greeks and Romans; HerodHerod,
dynasty reigning in Palestine at the time of Jesus. As a dynasty the Herods depended largely on the power of Rome. They are usually blamed for the state of virtual anarchy in Palestine at the beginning of the Christian era.
Antipater (fl. c.65 B.C.
..... Click the link for more information. , believed to have been born there, greatly enlarged the city. It was taken by the Arabs in A.D. 638, conquered by the Crusaders in 1153 and occupied by Richard IRichard I,
Richard Cœur de Lion
, or Richard Lion-Heart,
1157–99, king of England (1189–99); third son of Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine.
..... Click the link for more information. in 1191, and completely destroyed by Muslims in 1270. An Israeli settlement was established there in 1948. In 1955 the modern city of Ashqelon was founded when Afridar, a town established by South African Jews in 1952, and Migdal, a former Arab town, were merged. A national park in Ashqelon includes Greek and Roman ruins and the remains of ancient synagogues. A Roman tomb (3d cent.) decorated with frescoes, the ruins of a Byzantine church, and a wall built by Crusaders are also in the city.
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