Photo: Clara Amit
Young residents of Ashkelon and the vicinity who were employed by the Israel Antiquities Authority in an archaeological excavation in the city, recently uncovered buildings that were once used by local inhabitants that were engaged in fishing along the Mediterranean coast. The excavation was carried out for the Ashkelon municipality, at the initiative of the Ashkelon Economic Company, in an area where a new neighborhood is slated to be constructed in the northern part of city.
As part of a project being led by the Israel Antiquities Authority aimed at educating young people about their past, dozens of boys and girls were engaged in challenging and fascinating work, in revealing the coastal city’s past.
According to the excavation directors, Federico Kobrin and Haim Mamliya, “Two of the buildings that we uncovered are very curious, and it seems they were used as a fisherman’s house and a lookout tower, possibly a lighthouse, dating to the Ottoman period. The tower was situated on a lofty hilltop, and it looks out over the beach and Mediterranean Sea. From the tower one could signal and direct ships that were sailing between the ancient ports in Ashkelon and Ashdod-Yam”.
Kobrin adds, “The fisherman’s house is divided into three rooms, and a wealth of artifacts was discovered in it that are indicative of its use: metal fishhooks, dozens of lead weights, a large bronze bell, and even a stone anchor. The building’s entrances were fixed in the north in order to prevent the high winds and sea storms from entering into it. According to the archaeologists, "This is the first time that a building was exposed in Ashkelon that we can attribute with certainty to the fishing industry”.
Kobrin concluded that, “Working with youth was both a challenge and extremely satisfying. The young people participated in uncovering part of their city’s past; they labored diligently and conscientiously, showed their interest and curiosity regarding the finds, and it was a pleasure to work with them”.
The fisherman’s house with be preserved and incorporated in the development of the neighborhood and strip of beach for the benefit of the residents and to create a connection between them and those who lived and fished there in the past.