Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography/A'scalon

A'SCALON ('AflTiciAwy, 'AffKaXAvtor, Ascalo, Plin. V. 14. : Eth, 'Ao-icaX»Wn}f, ^AvKoX^wtoSj fem. *A<rKawiSy Steph. B., Suidas, Hierocles, As- calona, Ascalonius : ^Askuldn)^ one of the five cities of the Philistines (Josh. ziii. 3; 1 Sam. vi. 17), situated on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea, be- tween Gaza and Janmia (Joseph. B. J.iv. 11. § 5), 520 stadia (Josef^. B. J. iii. 2. § 1), or 53 M. P., according to the Peutinger Tables, from Jerusalem; and 16 M. P. from Gaza. (Anton. IHn.. Ptol. v. 16.) It was taken by the tribe of Judah (Judges, i. 18), but did not remain long in their possession (Judges, iii. 3); and during the wars which the Hebrews waged under Saul and David with the Philistines Aacal<Hi appears to have continued in the hands of the native inhabitants. (2 Sam. i. 20.) The prophets devoted it to destruction (Amos, i. 8; Zeph. ii. 4, 7; Zech, ix. 5 ; Jer. xxv. 20, xlvii. 5, 7). After the time of Alexander it shared the fate of Phoenicia and Judaea, and was sometimes subjected to Aegypt (Joseph. Antiq. xii. 425), at other times to the Syrian kings (1 Mac. x. 86; xi. 60; xii. 33.) Herod the Great, though it was not in his dominions, adorned the city with fountains, baths, and ocAon- nades. (Joseph. B. J. i. 12. § 11.) After his death, Ascalon, which had many Jewish inhabitants (B.J. iL 18. § 5), was given to his sister Salome us a residence. (Joseph. Ant. xvii. 11. § 5.) It suffered much in the Jewish wars with the Romans. (Joseph. B. J. ii. 18. § 1, iii. 22. § 1.) And its inliabitants slew 2500 of the Jews who dwelt there. (Joseph. B. J. ii. 18. § 5.) In very early times it was the seat of the worship of Derceto (Died. ii. 4), or Syrian Aphrodite, whose temple was plundered by tiie Sc}thians (Herod, i. 105). This goddess, representing the passive principle of nature, was woi shipped under the form of a fish with a woman's head. (Comp. Ov. Fast. ii. 4W.) Josephus (B. J. iii. 2. § 1), speaks of Ascalon as a strongly fortified place. (Comp. Pomp. Mela. i. 11. § 5.) Strabo xvi. p. 759) describes it as a small town, and re- marks that it was famous for the shallot (AlUum Ascalonicum; French, Echalotte; Italian, 5oa/o^na, a corruption of Ascalonia). (Comp. Plin. xix. 6 ; Athen. ii. p. 68; Dioscor. i. 24 ; Columell. xii. 10; Theophr. PlanL vii. 4.) In the 4th century As- calon was the see of a bishop, and remained so till the middle of the 7th century, when it t?M into ike hands of the Saracens. AbtU-fedi (Tab. Syr. p. 78) speaks of it as one of the fiunous stronghcdds of Islam (Schultens, Index Geog. $. v. Edrisi, par Jaubert, vol. i. p. 340) ; and the Orientals speak of it as the Bride'of Syria. The coast is sandy, and diflScult of access, and therefore it enjoyed but little advantage from its port It is freqnently mentioned in the history of the Crusades. Its for- tifications 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 Kreuez, vol. vii. p. 58.)

D'Arvieux, who visited it (a. d. 1658), and Von Troilo, who was there eight years afterwards, de- scribe the ruins as being very extensive. (Bosen- miiller, Handbuch der B^L AUerthem. vcH. ii. pt. 2, p. 383.) Modern travellers represent the atnation as .strong ; the thick walls, flanked with towers, were built on the top of a ridge of rock, that en- circles the town, and terminates at each end in the sea. The ground within sinks in the manner of an am- phitheatre. *Askuldn presents now a most mournful scene of utter desoUtion. (Robinson, PaUstUke, vol. u. p. 369.) [ E. B. J. ]