Ascalon is perhaps best known as one of the cities of the Philistines mentioned in the Bible, but in the Middle Ages it was a strongly fortified town, controlling the costal sea-and land- routes between Syria (Bilad al-Sham) and Egypt. Unlike neighbouring Gaza, the site has remained unoccupied since the mid thirteenth century, making it ideal for extensive excavations which have taken place since the late 1980’s by the Leon-Levy expedition. In 2008 they were joined by Denys Pringle of Cardiff University in a collaborative project to study the Medieval walls themselves in more details.
These massive walls which enclose the site on the landward side run for almost 2km, and stand on the remains of previous fortification, as ancient as the Middle Bronze Age. They are often in a ruinous state, making them particuarly hard to study, except for the most determined and skillful of scholars.
The walls themselves are often accredited to the Crusaders, but a sample of burnt organic material retrieved from the structure appears to put the initial construction in the 5th or early 6th century AD, making them contemporary with other Byzantine era structures at the site.
In this lecture, using the results from his study, and setting them in the context of significant events of the period, Professor Pringle will unravel the complex history of the Medieval fortifications, from their original construction through the numerous phases of contruction, destruction, rebuilding and modification which occurred throughout the Early Islamic and Crusader periods.
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