This section is from "The American Cyclopaedia", by George Ripley And Charles A. Dana. Also available from Amazon: The New American Cyclopędia. 16 volumes complete..
Ascalon (Heb. Ashkelon; Arab. Askalan), one of the five leading or princely cities of Philistia, was situated midway between Gaza and Ashdod, on the Mediterranean, about 37 m. S. W. of Jerusalem. Though several times mentioned in the poetical books of the Scriptures, it figured less conspicuously in the early history of the Hebrews than in that of the Maccabees and the crusades. It was twice taken by Jonathan the Asmonean, was the scene of a great victory of the Christians under Godfrey and Tancred in 1099, was taken by Baldwin III., king of Jerusalem, in 1153, and was recaptured by Saladin in 1187. By treaty between Richard and Saladin (1192) it was destroyed jointly by the Mussulmans and Christians. The wine of Ascalon is celebrated by Pliny. Near the town stood in antiquity a famous temple of Derceto, the Syrian Venus, of which, however, no trace remains now. Altogether, as Zephaniah predicted, Ascalon has become "a desolation."