Site and archeology
The location of ancient Anthedon is inside the Gaza Strip, at a place with the Arabic name 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. 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. Potsherds have also been found in sandy dunes.
On April 2, 2012, the Ancient city was listed as a tentative World Heritage Site by Palestine. In 2013, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of Hamas, bulldozed part of the harbour to expand its military training zone. The Deputy Minister of Tourism in Gaza, Muhammad Khela, said the location would not be damaged by the expansion, despite criticism from local activists and the UNESCO office in Gaza.
Located between Gaza and Ascalon, the city served as port to the former. It was inhabited from 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.
Anthedon is first mentioned by Flavius Josephus in Jewish Antiquities, 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. Later on, Anthedon along with coastal Province Judea passed into the hands of Cleopatra and then to Augustus, who assigned it to Herod. The latter renamed the city Agrippias in honor of Agrippa, a Roman general and son-in-law to Octavian Augustus. 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 traditional multitheism, particularly the worship of Venus and/or Astarte, survived there until the 5th century according to Sozomenus. 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.
It is vacant since decades, having had the following incumbents, all of the lowest (episcopal) rank :
- Angelin vom heiligen Joseph Geiselmayer, Discalced Carmelites (O.C.D.) (1785.08.12 – 1786.07.12)
- Giuseppe Maria Tobia, Conventual Franciscans (O.F.M. Conv.) (1796.06.10 – 1815.07.19)
- Antonio Luigi Landi (路類思), Friars Minor (O.F.M.) (1802.02.16 – 1814.10.26)
- Bernhard Galura (1819.12.17 – 1829.09.28)
- Karl Anton Lüpke (1830.07.05 – 1855.04.08)
- Louis-François Richer-Laflèche (1866.11.23 – 1870.04.30)
- Jerzy Iwaszkiewicz (1872.05.06 – 1876.01.09)
- Charles-Louis Gay (1877.10.23 – 1892.01.19)
- Guillermo Juan Carter Gallo (1893.06.15 – 1906.08.30)
- Ramón Barberá y Boada (1907.12.19 – 1914.05.28)
- Emilio Jiménez Pérez (1918.01.04 – 1926.10.21)
- Bernardino Vitale Bigi, Friars Minor (O.F.M.) (1927.01.27 – 1930.04.19)
- Alejandro García Fontcuberta, Dominican Order (O.P.) (1930.07.03 – 1933.02.14)
- Edgar Anton Häring (俞廣仁), O.F.M. (1933.04.25 – 1946.04.11)
- Marcel-François Lefebvre, Holy Ghost Fathers (C.S.Sp.) (1947.06.12 – 1948.09.22), as Apostolic Vicar of the then Dakar (Senegal) (1947.06.12 – 1955.09.14), later Apostolic Administrator of Saint-Louis du Sénégal (Senegal) (1948 – 1955.09.14), Titular Archbishop of Arcadiopolis in Europa (1948.09.22 – 1955.09.14), Apostolic Delegate (papal diplomatic envoy) to all of French Africa (1948.09.22 – 1959.07.09), Metropolitan Archbishop of Dakar (Senegal) (1955.09.14 – 1962.01.23), Archbishop-Bishop of Tulle (France) (1962.01.23 – 1962.08.11), Superior General of Congregation of the Holy Spirit (Spiritans, Holy Ghost Fathers) (1962.07.26 – 1968.09), Titular Archbishop of Synnada in Phrygia (1962.08.11 – 1970.12.10), Founder of Society of Saint Pius X (1970.11.01) and its first Superior General (1970.11.01 – 1982), thus is disputed communion with the Holy See
- John Baptist Choi Deok-hong (최덕홍 요한) (1948.12.09 – 1954.12.14)
- Felix Roeder (1955.02.21 – 1965.02.24)
- Ascalon, Gaza, Negev and Sinai, the Madaba Mosaic Map
- Études archéologiques des ruines d'Anthedon. (French)
- "Anthedon Harbour" at UNESCO World Heritage Center
- Les Villes Philistines, Gaza, Ascalon. (French)
- JA 13.13.3
- JA 14.5.3
- JA 15.7.3
- Vaillant, Numismata..., p. 115, in: Smith, William, ed. (1854–57). Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography. London: John Murray. Vol. 1, p. 139
- Ecclesiastical History 5.9
- Annuario Pontificio 2013 (Libreria Editrice Vaticana 2013 ISBN 978-88-209-9070-1), p. 834