Ashdod revisited

Israel Finkelstein, Lily Singer-Avitz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We have tried to scrutinize the results of the excavations at Ashdod and the widely accepted interpretation of the finds. Our main proposals are summarized below (see Table 2): 1. Most of the remains dating to the terminal Late Bronze Age should be ascribed to general Stratum XV and dated to the late 13th century BCE. What we would describe as Stratum XIV is represented mainly by local Stratum H6. It is contemporary with Level VI at Lachish and was likewise destroyed in the mid-12th century BCE. The Ramses III scarab that was found in a later context in Area G originated in this city, which was partially (that is, not overwhelmingly) destroyed by fire. 2. Both the Late Bronze and the Iron I settlements were unfortified. What was described as a Stratum XII city wall in Area G is a section of an elaborate building. 3. The Qasile X phase is apparently missing from the Ashdod sequence. It should have been found between Strata XI and X. This means that there was probably an occupational gap at Ashdod for most of the 10th century BCE. 4. The Stratum X City Wall 4014 of Area G should be reassigned to Stratum VIII. It was constructed in the 8th century BCE or a short while earlier. 5. Stratum IX at Ashdod cannot be interpreted as an independent layer. It was created because of possible evidence for constructional phases in the Stratum VIII-VII continuum and boosted in order to provide a pre-8th century date for the four-entry gate in Area M. All remains which were ascribed to this stratum should be assigned to the city of Stratum VIII. 6. We have endorsed Ussishkin's interpretation of the stratigraphy of the gate in Area M. The four-entry gate of Ashdod was erected in the time of Stratum VIII. 7. The site of Tel Ashdod was not inhabited (except for possibly squatters activity) in the 7th century BCE. The typical 7th century pottery types of Philistia are missing. But Ashdod is mentioned in the historical records throughout the 7th century BCE. We have argued that 7th century Ashdod should be sought at Ashdod-Yam. Sargon II conquered Ashdod, deported its population and established a major Assyrian centre at Ashdod-Yam–until then probably a relatively small settlement on the seashore. This analysis emphasizes once more the correct order of archaeological investigation: it should start with a careful method in the field, then proceed to establishing a well-controlled stratigraphy and reconstructing safe assemblages of finds. Only then can one engage in historical reconstruction.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)231-259
Number of pages29
JournalTel Aviv
Issue number2
StatePublished - Sep 2001

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Archaeology
  • Cultural Studies
  • History
  • Archaeology


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