Wednesday, May 06, 2015

Ashkelon travelogue

TRAVEL: At Ashkelon tel, they’ve found clay tickets but no theater — yet. British PM William Pitt the Younger’s niece started the treasure hunting in this unique southern Israeli city, and it continues to this day (Aviva Bar-Am, The Times of Israel).
Finally, in 1985, archeologist Lawrence Stager arrived from Harvard, and with the blessing of the Israel Antiquities Authority has been digging Tel Ashkelon ever since. Among the site’s most exciting discoveries are a forum, fabulous statues, massive fortifications, and one of the only two bronze-era gates found in Israel. Today, Ashkelon’s ancient gate – the oldest in the country – is the only one that visitors can walk right through.

The first National Park in Israel was established in Ashkelon. Named for Yigael Yadin, the first Israeli to insist on physical preservation of our heritage, this is a unique and remarkable site. But the antiquities in Ashkelon reach well beyond the borders of the official venue. Indeed, any visit to Ashkelon should include, besides the park itself, several exciting attractions located well inside the modern city. Summer visitors take note: an excellent beach is accessible from the park. (From the first of April, Ashkelon National Park is open from 8:00-20:00 – and you can stay until 22:00.)
As I've mentioned before, I was on the Ashkelon excavation staff as a lowly assistant square supervisor for a couple of years in the late-80s. But most of the really interesting discoveries came after my time. The article keeps it upbeat and neglects to mention the infamous ruins of a brothel at the site.

Ashkelon is very much worth a visit if you have the chance.