Until the conquest of Alexander the Great, Ashkelon's inhabitants were influenced by the dominant Persian culture. It is in this archaeological layer that excavations have found dog burials. It is believed the dogs may have had a sacred role, however evidence is not conclusive. After the conquest of Alexander in the 4th century BC, Ashkelon was an important free city and Hellenistic seaport. It had mostly friendly relations with the Hasmonean kingdom and Herodian kingdom of Judea, in the 2nd and 1st centuries BC. In a significant case of an early witch-hunt, during the reign of the Hasmonean queen Salome Alexandra, the court of Simeon ben Shetach sentenced to death eighty women in Ashkelon who had been charged with sorcery. Herod the Great, who became a client king of Rome over Judea and its surrounds in 30 BC, had not received Ashkelon, yet he built monumental buildings there: bath houses, elaborate fountains and large colonnades. In 6 CE, when a Roman imperial province was set in Judea, overseen by a lower-rank governor, Ashkelon was moved directly to the higher jurisdiction of the governor of Syria province. The city remained loyal to Rome during the Great Revolt, 66–70 AD.

Alexander I Hover to enlarge Alexander I

Alexander I
Mint: Ascalon
Year 164, 149/148 BC
Obvs: Head of Alexander right.
Revs: BACIA on left, AΔEΞ on right, Asphlaston between. Mintmark ACK outter right, year ΔΞP outter left.
AE 12x13mm, 1.31g
Order # G 282
Ref: SC 1849.1; HGC 9, 946(R2)