Andrew Herscher

A modern-day artist, using the results of current excavations as well as the depiction by Roberts (see lithograph), has rendered this scene as it might have appeared about the beginning of the early third century A.D. In the foreground stood a building, possibly a Roman temple, based solely on Roberts—it has not been uncovered in the current excavations nor is it mentioned in classical sources. At center stood a third-century A.D. basilica discovered in 1815 by Lady Hester Lucy Stanhope, Ashkelon’s first excavator. Buried beyond the basilica and at a right angle to it lay the remains of another building, misidentified by British archaeologist John Garstang in the 1920s as King Herod’s peristyle (colonnades, or cloister) and Senate Hall (bouleuterion). Author Lawrence E. Stager contends that the latter building is in fact another third-century A.D. basilica, or forum.

Other remains shown here and discussed by Stager are a Roman-period theater (seen as a series of concentric circles beyond and slightly to the right of Stanhope’s basilica) and the remnants of Fatimid (10th–12th centuries A.D.) fortification walls that cap the heights in the background.