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The nearby sea could supply salt necessary for the conservation of meat.

The city was originally built on a sandstone outcropping and has a good underground water supply.

In 1918, it became part of the British Occupied Enemy Territory Administration and in 1920 became part of Mandatory Palestine.

Al-Majdal on the eve of the 1948 Arab–Israeli War had 10,000 Arab inhabitants and in October 1948, the city accommodated thousands more refugees from nearby villages.

According to Herodotus, its temple of Venus was the oldest of its kind, imitated even in Cyprus, and he mentions that this temple was pillaged by marauding Scythians during the time of their sway over the Medes (653–625 BC).

Ashkelon is mentioned in the Egyptian Execration Texts of the 11th dynasty as "Asqanu." 1350 BC), there are seven letters to and from Ashkelon's (Ašqaluna) king Yidya, and the Egyptian pharaoh.One letter from the pharaoh to Yidya was discovered in the early 1900s.The Philistines conquered Canaanite Ashkelon about 1150 BC.Its commanding ramparts, measuring 1.5 miles (2.4 km) long, 50 feet (15 m) high and 150 feet (46 m) thick,, and even as a ruin they stand two stories high.The thickness of the walls was so great that the mudbrick city gate had a stone-lined, 8 feet (2.4 m) wide tunnel-like barrel vault, coated with white plaster, to support the superstructure: it is the oldest such vault ever found.

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Their earliest pottery, types of structures and inscriptions are similar to the early Greek urbanised centre at Mycenae in mainland Greece, adding weight to the hypothesis that the Philistines were one of the populations among the "Sea Peoples" that upset cultures throughout the eastern Mediterranean at that time.