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Emmaus-Nicopolis, Eqron, Ascalon, Gezer
(October 21st, 2004)


Emmaus-Nicopolis: Interior view of the Crusader basilica (12th cent.) which memorializes Jesus’ Manifestation at Emmaus.

The cruciform baptismal font in the second byzantine basilica at Emmaus-Nicopolis

Plan of the sacred edifices of Emmaus-Nicopolis.

A. North Church
B. South Church

I. Roman Period
IV. Medieval Period
II. Byzantine Period (4th-5th cent.)
III. Byzantine Period (6th-7th cent.)

1. Quarry
2. Roman Tombs
3. North Church (A)
4. Baptistry and water reservoir
5. Apsis of the South Church (B)
6. Passage between the two churches
7. Nave of the Crusader basilica
8. Ecclesiastical Residences
9. New excavations


The antiquities from Tel Miqne, which has been identified with Eqron of the Philistines (Josh 13:3) are preserved in the kibbutz of Revadim. In the open area, there is an exposition of the Philistine culture, as it was revealed in the excavations carried out by T. Dothan and S. Gitin.

The more delicate objects, such as ceramic objects and a small altar going back to the Iron Age II (9th-7th cent.), are preserved inside the Revadim archaeological museum. Eqron was the northernmost of the five cities from the Philistine Pentapolis (Josh 13:2-3).

Panoramic view of Tel Miqne (Khirbet el-Muqannah), often labelled “the invisible tell”. Its elevation is just few meters higher than the cotton fields along the wadi Timna.

Aerial view of Tel Miqne. During the Byzantine and medieval period, Eqron was identified with nearby Aqran and called Accaron in Eusebius’ Onomasticon and in the Madaba Map .
1. Northern Gate
2. Oil presses
3. Central area
4. South-Western Gate
5. Eastern limit of the tell

Section of the northern wall of Eqron, rebuilt after the conquest by Sennacherib (702 B.C.).


Gate and North Wall of Ascalon. It is easy to see the glacis (rampart) from the Middle Bronze age, re-employed in the Ascalon defensive walls till the Crusader Period. A small silver figurine of a bull (10.5x11 cm), has been recovered near the gate. The image points to the Cananaean god Baal.

Interior view of the Middle Bronze Gate. The arched structure, flanked by two towers, was built in mud bricks and limestone. The city of Ascalon in the Middle Bronze is known from the geographical lists of Tuthmosis III, Amenophis III, and Ramses II. It appears also in seven of the el-Amarna letters, which its king Widyia wrote to the Pharaoh.

General plan of Tell al-Khadra, Ascalon. Having been a port and trade center since the II millennium B.C., the city became famous during the classical era for its temples (Dagon, Apollo, the Heavenly Aphrodite, Atargatis) and many gardens.
1. Cananaean Gate
2. Basilica
3. Bouleuterion
4. Ancient tell
5. Remains of the sea wall
6. “Peace Well”
7. Church of St. Mary the Green

The civil basilica, or bouleuterion, of Ascalon, dating back to the 2th cent. B.C. Its measures 110x35 m.

This sector of the civil basilica’s apsis, where some valuable pieces of classic statuary are in display, have been thoroughly excavated. Among the pieces shown are a Nike, Isis and Horus, etc.

A vast archaeological trench is dug in the middle of Tell al-Khadra. Excavations were first conducted by J. Garstang (1920), then continued by L. Stager starting from 1985.

Impressive remains from the Crusader sea wall. Many marble columns from the Byzantine times were set up inside the walls to make the construction stronger.

The tell of Ascalon seen from the South. The Mediterranean Sea extends to the west.

The small church, which is built against the eastern wall of Ascalon near the Gate of Jerusalem, is thought to be St. Mary the Green (Maria Viridis). It remounts to the Byzantine era, but was rebuilt anew by the Crusaders.

The site of Ascalon appears like a big, hollow semicircle, where a huge sand accumulation has practically covered everything from the massive Crusader city walls to the ruins of every urban layout both ancient and modern.


Sketch plan of Gezer (Tell Abu Susheh), after the excavations by R.A.S. Macalister (1902-1909), and W.G. Dever (1964-1971). Very important was the discovery and publication of the so called “Gezer Calendary” by Ch. Clermont-Ganneau (1871).
1. Gate and Tower of the Middle Bronze
2. Tunnel to get to the water
3. Salomonic Gate
4. Row of stelae (A cultic place)

The caracteristic shape of the hill of Gezer, with the tree planted by R.A.S. Macalister while he was excavating the site. According to Eusebius’ Onomasticon, Gazara is set apart 4 miles from Nicopolis towards the North.

A trench dug by the archaeologists (plan: n. 1) through very thick, sun-baked, mud-bricks wall from the Middle Bronze Age (II millennium B.C.).

In Gezer, we find a "sinnor”, a tunnel through which the ancient inhabitants descended to reach the water in the depths.

The monumental remains of the Salomonic Gate. Gezer’s name appears in the Merneptah stele as a city which was conquered by this Pharaoh.

The stone rocks shown here are properly called, “massebot” (stelae) and belong to a Cananaean temple that goes back to the Middle Bronze Age. During the Late Bronze Age, Gezer was an important city under Egyptian control in Canaan. Fourteen letters were found in the al-Amarna archive (Egypt) written by three different rulers of Gezer (Milki-Ilu, Addu-Dani e Yapahu).

A more than 360 degrees view from the highest point of Tel Gezer. The Shephelah hills and the Judaea mountains appear in the background, while in the foreground, you can see a now abandandoned excavated area .

Click on the photos to enlarge them.

External Links

Emmaus - Nicopolis (The Madaba Mosaic Map)

The Philistines. From where they were?

Ekron: a Philistine city (Israel Foreign Ministry)

Ascalon (The Madaba Mosaic Map); (Bible Places)

Gezer (Bible Places)

 SBF main, Excursions Index

Biblical Excursions

The Holy Land


Tel Qasileh

Maaleh Adummin


Tell es-Sultan

En Gedi


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Created/updated: Sunday, December 16, 2001 by J. Abela / E. Alliata
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