History and museums, Natural sights
Ashdod-Yam (lit. "Ashdod on the Sea" in Hebrew) is an archaeological site on the Mediterranean coast of Israel. It is located in the southern part of the modern city of Ashdod, and about 5 kilometres southwest of Tel Ashdod where Ashdod stood in the time of the Philistines. Ashdod on the Sea and (inland) Ashdod were for most of their history two separate entities, connected though by close ties with each other. At different times in history one of the two twin towns would gain the upper hand over the other. There is more on the two towns and their interaction in the Ashdod article.
Most of the area has not been excavated yet and is covered by sand dunes.
The two towns, Ashdod and Ashdod-Yam, have been connected throughout their history.
During the Late Bronze Age the inland city of Ashdod used a port facility near the mouth of the Lakhish River, at Tel Mor, as its main exit to the sea, while a smaller port was probably located at Ashdod-Yam.
During the Iron Age the roles gradually reversed, and Ashdod-Yam, located south of Ashdod, overtook in importance the port at Tel Mor, located north of Ashdod. As one of the main five cities of the Philistine Pentapolis, Ashdod had great regional significance.
Ashdod-Yam is first mentioned in documents from the time of Sargon II of Assyria when in 713 BCE the Assyrian king speaks of having to depose a usurper who had taken over control of the city of Ashdod and had fortified three towns: Ashdod itself, Gath, and "Asdudimmu" (Ashdod-Yam).
A chancel screen from a synagogue from the 6th century BCE testifies to the existence of a Jewish community at Ashdod-Yam during the Hellenistic period.
When general Pompey restored to Ashdod its independence previously lost to the Hasmonean king John Hyrcanus, the city consisted of two twin towns, the regional center of Azotos Mesogeios or A. Hippenos (lit. "inland Ashdod" and "Ashdod of the horsemen" respectively), and Azotos Paralios (lit. "coastal Ashdod"; also written A. Paralus, Paralius)
This arrangement persisted throughout the Byzantine period, when the port town actually overshadowed in importance its former mother-city further inland: the bishops of Azotos present at the Church councils of 325-536 seem to have resided in Azotos Paralios rather than in Azotos Mesogeios. Remains from Azotos Paralios of the Byzantine period, including a large church, were found over 2 km north of the inland Iron Age site.
The fort of "Minat al-Qal'a" (lit. "the port with the castle" in Arabic) was probably built by the Umayyads and was reconstructed by the Fatimids and Crusaders. The initial purpose was to hold off the strong Byzantine navy and it constituted one link in a chain of Muslim coastal fortifications.
Documents from the Crusader period indicate that Ashdod, including its port, belonged to the lordship of Ramla, and it appears probable that in 1169 the old Arab sea fort (Minat al-Qal'a) was given by Hugh, lord of Ramla, to his knight Nicolas de Beroard. From this period the fort is known as Castellum Beroart.
The Iron Age site was excavated by Jacob Kaplan from 1965 to 1968 on behalf of the Tel Aviv-Jaffa Museum of Antiquities. Finds at the site include sections of city fortification walls and a glacis. Pottery found at the site suggests that the fortifications were built in the second half of the 8th century BCE and that a second phase of occupation occurred during the 7th century BCE when the site was no longer fortified.
The medieval fort has been most recently worked on by Dov Nachlieli and his team.