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Storia dell'antica città[modifica | modifica wikitesto]

Ascalona acome menzionata nella Stele di Merneptah: iskeluni

Ascalona fu il più antico e grande porto nell'antica Canaan, una delle cinque città dei Filistei, a nord di Gaza e a sud di Giaffa. Gli scavi archeologici cominciati nel 1985 da Lawrence Stager dell'Università di Harvard stanno rivelando il sito con circa 1.500 cm di rovine accumulate dalle successive occupazioni Canaanite, Filistee, Fenice, Persiane, Ellenistiche, Romane, Bizantine, Islamiche, e Crociate.

Un antico sarcofago ad Ascalona.
Spiaggia di Ascalona al tramonto.

Negli strati meno recenti vi sono tombe dei Canaaniti prima dei Fenici. La città fu originariamente costruita sull'arenaria e godeva di una buona fornitura di acqua. Era relativamente grande per essere una città antica con circa 15.000 persone che vivevano dentro le mura lunghe 2,4 chilometri, alte 15 metri e spesse 50.

Durante l'Età del Bronzo, Ascalona era una prosperosa città di più di 607.000 m², con un sistema difensivo dotato del più antico cancello cittadino arcato del Mondo, largo circa due metri e mezzo, tutt'ora in piedi all'altezza del secondo strato di rovine. La largezza delle mura era tanto grande che il cancello aveva delle volte a botte rivestite da intonaco bianco: è il primo tipo di volta mai trovato.

I bastioni dell'età del Bronzo erano così ampi che le fortificazioni romane ed islamiche, rivestite di pietra, seguivano la stessa traccia, un vasto semicerchio che proteggeva Ascalona verso terra. Sul mare era difesa da un'alta scogliera naturale

Fra gli enormi bastioni, nelle rovine di un santuario, nel 1991 è stato ritrovato un vitello votivo d'argento. Durante il periodo canaanita, una strada di più di 20 metri in larghezza saliva per il bastione dal porta e passava attraverso un cancello in cima. Vicino, fra i resti di un tabernacolo in ceramica è stata trovata una statuetta in bronzo di un toro, finemente lavorata e in origine argentata, lunga dieci centimetri. Le effigie di vitelli e tori erano associate agli dèi canaaniti El e Baal.

The Amarna letters correspondence of Ashkelon/(Ašqaluna), of 1350 BCE, contains seven letters to the Egyptian pharaoh, from its 'King'/mayor: Yidya. Yidya was the only ruler of Ašqaluna during the 15-20 year time period. One letter from the pharaoh to Yidya, was subsequently discovered in the early 1900s.

The Philistines conquered Canaanite Ashkelon about 1150 BCE. Their earliest pottery, types of structures and inscriptions are similar to the early Greek urbanised centre at Mycenae in mainland Greece, adding weight to the hypothesis that the Philistines were of Mycenaeic origin possibly one of the populations among the "Sea Peoples" that upset cultures throughout the eastern Mediterranean at that time. Ashkelon became one of the five Philistine cities that were constantly warring with the Israelites and the kingdom of Judah. According to Herodotus, its temple of Venus was the oldest of its kind, imitated even in Cyprus, and he mentions that this temple was pillaged by marauding "Scythians" during the time of their sway over the Medes (653-625 BCE). When this vast seaport, the last of the Philistine cities to hold out against Nebuchadnezzar finally fell in 604 BCE, burnt and destroyed and its people taken into exile, the Philistine era was over.

Ashkelon was soon rebuilt. It was an important Hellenistic seaport. In the period of the Hasmonean Kingdom, it was the scene of a massive witch hunt , when Rabbi Simeon ben Shetach - Pharisee scholar and Nasi of the Sanhedrin in the First Century B.C. - is reported to have on a single day sentenced to death eighty Ashkelon women, who had been charged with witchcraft. Later, the women's relatives took revenge by bringing false witnesses against Simeon's son and causing him to be executed in turn.

Ashkelon was the birthplace of Herod the Great who rebuilt and enriched the city and it continued to flourish in the Roman and Byzantine periods.

During the period of the Crusades, Ashkelon (which was known to the Crusaders as Ascalon) was an important city due to its location near the coast and between the Crusader States and Egypt. In 1099, shortly after the Siege of Jerusalem (1099) an Egyptian Fatimid army which had been sent to relieve Jerusalem was defeated by a Crusader force at the Battle of Ascalon. The city itself was not captured by the Crusaders because of internal disputes amongst their leaders. This battle is widely considered to have signified the end of the First Crusade. Until 1153, the Fatimids were able to launch raids into the Kingdom of Jerusalem from Ashkelon which meant that the southern border of the Crusader States was constantly unstable. In response to these incursions into Outremer, King Fulk of Jerusalem constructed a number of Christian settlements around the city during the 1130s, in order to neutralise the threat of the Muslim garrison. In 1148, during the Second Crusade, the city was unsuccessfully besieged for eight days by a small Crusader army which was not fully supported by the Crusader States. In 1150 the Fatimids fortified the city with fifty-three towers as it was their most important frontier fortress. Three years later, after a five month siege, the city was captured by a Crusader army lead by King Baldwin III of Jerusalem. It was then added to the County of Jaffa to form the County of Jaffa and Ascalon which became one of the four major seigneuries of the Kingdom of Jerusalem. In 1187 Saladin took Ashkelon as part of his conquest of the Crusader States following the Battle of Hattin. In 1191, during the Third Crusade, Saladin demolished the city because of its potential strategic importance to the Christians, but the leader of the Crusade, King Richard I of England, constructed a citadel upon the ruins. Ashkelon subsequently remained part of the diminished territores of Outremer throughout most of the 12th century and Richard, Earl of Cornwall reconstructed and refortified the citadel during 1240-41, as part of the Crusader policy of improving the defences of coastal sites. The Egyptians regained Ashkelon in 1247 during As-Salih Ayyub's conflict with the Crusader States and the city was returned to Muslim rule. The Mamluk dynasty came into power in Egypt in 1250 and the ancient and medieval history of Ashkelon was brought to an end in 1270, when the Mamluk sultan Baybars ordered the citadel and harbour at the site to be destroyed. As a result of this destruction, the site was abandoned by its inhabitants and fell into disuse.

History of the modern city[modifica | modifica wikitesto]

Ashkelon and environs in the 1870s
High-rise residential development along the city's beach.

The Arab town of al-Majdal (in arabo: المجدل‎, in ebraico: אל-מג'דל, מגדל?; also spelled Majdal and Migdal) was described as a large village in the 16th century. In 1596 it was the 6th largest city in Palestine, with a population of 2,795.[1] By the time of the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, it had grown into a substantial town of about 11,000 residents. It was especially famous for its large weaving industry.

The Israeli national plan of June 1949 designated Majdal as the site for a regional urban center of 20,000 people. Mass repopulation of the vacated Arab houses by Jewish immigrants or demobilised soldiers began in July 1949 and by December the Jewish population had increased to 2,500. During 1949, the town was renamed Migdal Gaza, and then Migdal Gad. Soon afterwards it became Migdal Ashkelon. In 1953 the nearby neighborhood of Afridar was incorporated and the current name Ashkelon was adopted. By 1961 , Ashkelon ranked 18th amongst Israeli urban centers with a population of 24,000.

The population of Ashkelon in 2007 is 108,300. Ashkelon is currently a thriving city which has a newly built sports complex and a culture hall, making it the 13th largest city in Israel.

The Ashkelon is a northern terminus for the Trans-Israel pipeline, which brings petroleum products from Eilat to an oil terminal at the port.

In 2005 the world's then largest water desalination plant opened at Ashkelon with a capacity of 330,000 cubic meters of water produced per day. The project was undertaken by VID, which is a consortium between Veolia Environnement and IDE. The project at the time represented not only the largest desalination plant in the world but also the lowest cost desalination plant ($0.52 per cubic meter). DWEERS energy recovery devices and FILMTECTM membranes were used in the design.[2]

Rocket attacks[modifica | modifica wikitesto]

On March 1 and March 2, 2008, rockets fired by Hamas from the Gaza Strip hit Ashkelon, wounding seven, and causing property damage. This is the first time that Hamas has been able to reliably strike Ashkelon. The mayor, Roni Mahatzri has stated that, "This is a state of war, I know no other definition for it. If it lasts a week or two, we can handle that, but we have no intention of allowing this to become part of our daily routine."[3]

Education[modifica | modifica wikitesto]

Ashkelon Academic College

The city has 19 elementary schools, 9 junior-high and high-schools. One of Ashkelon's schools "Omanuyot", literally meaning, "arts", which teaches all ages from six to 18.

The Ashkelon Academic College opened in 1998, and now hosts thousands of students daily.

Sister cities[modifica | modifica wikitesto]

See also[modifica | modifica wikitesto]

Ascalon is another spelling, and also refer to other related topics.

The name of the shallot and the scallion derives from the name of this ancient city.

Notes[modifica | modifica wikitesto]

  1. ^ A. Petersen, The Towns of Palestine under Muslim Rule AD 600-1600. (BAR International Series 1381, 2005), p133.
  2. ^ World's largest desalination plant begins operating in Israel
  3. ^ Israeli City Shocked As Rockets Hit, AP/Google, 3 marzo 2008. URL consultato il 4 marzo 2008.

References[modifica | modifica wikitesto]

  • Townsend, Christopher, God's War- A new history of the Crusades, Penguin Books ltd, 2006, ISBN -13ISBN non valido (aiuto), 978-0-713-99220-50-713-99220-4.
  • Kafkafi, Eyal, Segregation or integration of the Israeli Arabs - two concepts in Mapai, in International Journal of Middle East Studies, vol. 30, 1998, pp. 347-367.
  • Golan, Arnon, Jewish Settlement of Former Arab Towns and their Incorporation into the Israeli Urban System (1948-1950), in Israel Affairs, vol. 9, 2003, pp. 149-164.

External links[modifica | modifica wikitesto]