Keeping the Hydra in its cave: Viewshed analysis and the Frankish blockade of Fāṭimid Ascalon (1132-1153)

Rafael Y. Lewis, Michal Birkenfeld

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


Even though the Battle of Ascalon (12 August 1099) ended with a conclusive Frankish victory over the F??imid forces, the city itself was not captured and consequently became the Fāṭimid’s northern outpost for the next 54 years. The Muslim city became the place from which raids and skirmishes against the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem were launched and posed a constant threat to the kingdom’s sovereignty. In 1132, as part of his defensive policy, Fulk, King of Jerusalem, initiated the isolation of Ascalon through building and settling operations on the south-western frontier. A series of fortresses and settlements were constructed, enclosing the city from the north through the east and to the south. After Fulk’s death in 1143, Queen Melisende and Baldwin III continued this mission. In this chapter we seek to visualize Ascalon’s isolation via a viewshed analysis, presenting the visibility of Frankish posts in the direction of Ascalon and vice versa. We provide in this way a graphic representation of the nature of the city’s isolation, indicating the possible gaps in the blockade and illustrating the strategic location and communication system between the different Frankish posts; and perhaps even pointing out the development of this operation and its chronological stages.

Original languageAmerican English
Title of host publicationExploring Outremer Volume II
Subtitle of host publicationStudies in Crusader Archaeology in Honour of Adrian J. Boas
Number of pages26
ISBN (Electronic)9781000869156
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Arts and Humanities


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