Town (pop., 2004 est.: 105,400) and archaeological site, Israel. The historic coastal city-state of Ascalon was traditionally the key to the conquest of southwestern Palestine. Its name appears in Egyptian texts as early as circa 1800 BC. It was conquered by several ancient empires, including that of Alexander the Great (332 BC). Conquered by the Arabs in AD 636, it was taken by Crusaders in 1153 and became one of their principal ports (see Crusades). It was retaken by the Ayyūbid sultan Saladin in 1187 and destroyed by the Mamlūk sultan Baybars I in 1270. Modern Ashqelon, originally an Arab town, was resettled by Israelis after 1949 and is now a resort and industrial centre.
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