Anthedon (Palestine)

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Anthedon was a Hellenistic city near Gaza[1] and is a titular see of the Catholic Church.[2]

Located between Gaza and Ascalon, the city served as port to the former. It has actually been inhabited since the Mycenaean era to the early Byzantine age, but it was during the Hellenistic period that the port northwest of Gaza, populated by immigrants from Anthedon, Boeotia, became an independent city under the name Anthedon. As a Greek city, it had an agora and temples. The citizens' life was chiefly dedicated to fishing and shipbuilding. The city was governed by a Council of 500 members and had its own army commanded by a strategos.[3]

Anthedon is first reported of by Flavius Josephus in Jewish Antiquities,[4] dealing with the period when it was conquered by the Jewish leader Alexander Jannaeus and destroyed. In 64 BC it was liberated by Pompey and subsequently rebuilt by his successor Gabinius.[5] Later on, Anthedon along with coastal Province Judea passed into the hands of Cleopatra and then to Augustus, who assigned it to Herod.[6] The latter renamed the city Agrippias in honor of Agrippa, a Roman general and son-in-law to Octavian Augustus.[4] During the "Jewish War" (66–70 AD), the religious faction of the Zealots attacked Anthedon, but the attack was successfully repelled and the city remained Hellenistic.

In the 4th century AD the city became an episcopal seat, though idolatry, particularly the worship of Venus and/or Astarte,[7] survived there until the 5th century according to Sozomenus.[8] The latter informs us about one Zenon, brother of the martyrs Nestabus and Eusebius - who were martyred in 362 AD as a result of prosecution by Julian the Apostate - who fled to Anthedon. The pagan townsfolk, upon learning that he was a Christian, beat him and drove him out of town. Later on, this Zenon went on to become bishop of Maiuma of Gaza. The first known bishop of Anthedon was Paul, who took part in the Councils of Ephesus and Chalcedon in 431 and 451 respectively. Also known is another bishop Eustathius, who took part in the Council of Jerusalem in 518, and Dorotheus, participant in the council of 536.[1]

The location of ancient Anthedon is roughly that of the modern Israeli city Tell Blakhiyah (2 kilometers north of the port of Gaza). It has been identified with Tida or Theda, a site near Beit Lahiya known from medieval Arab sources.[1] Immediately to the north of it there is a hill still called Teda; the name seems to be a corruption of "Anthedon". Some parts of the city wall are still standing, and port structures are visible: they have been explored by a Franco-Palestinian archaeological expedition between 1995 and 2005, under the direction of Father Jean-Baptiste Humbert.[9] Potsherds have also been found in sandy dunes.

On April 2, 2012, the ancient city was tacked on Palestine's tentative World Heritage Site,[10] but just one year later, Hamas bulldozed part of it in order to build a "terrorist training camp".[11]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Ascalon, Gaza, Negev and Sinai, the Madaba Mosaic Map
  2. ^ Anthedon (Titular See)
  3. ^ Les Villes Philistines, Gaza, Ascalon. (French)
  4. ^ a b JA 13.13.3
  5. ^ JA 14.5.3
  6. ^ JA 15.7.3
  7. ^ Vaillant, Numismata..., p. 115, in: Smith, William, ed. (1854–57). Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography. London: John Murray. Vol. 1, p. 139
  8. ^ Ecclesiastical History 5.9
  9. ^ Études archéologiques des ruines d'Anthedon. (French)
  10. ^ "Anthedon Harbour" at UNESCO World Heritage Center
  11. ^ "Hamas Bulldozes UN-Designated Historical Site to Make Room for Terrorist Training Camp"