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General History

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Showing 21 - 38 from 38 entries

> Freemasonry in Ottoman Palestine
> The Time the Peasants Entered Jerusalem
> Re-examining Egyptian Rule: Who laid the...
> Palestinian Education
> The Players - Some of the people who had a part in...
> The Crusades are part of Palestinian history, but...
> Interesting highlights on Jerusalem after 1291
> The colorful history of Bethlehem
> The Expulsions of 1948
> Pre 1948 Palestine. What really happened ?
> The Jewish connection with Palestine
> Church of the Nativity
> History of Palestine
> A brief history of Bethlehem
> Lepers, Lunatics and Saints
> Palestinian Identity
> An overview of the 20th century history of Palestine
> Debate about history, 16-2-2006, between...
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History of Palestine
submitted by Alex Kattan

History of Palestine

Prehistoric Period

Paleolithic Period

The Mousterian Neanderthals were the earliest inhabitants of the area known to archaeologists, and have been dated to c. 200,000 BC. The first anatomically modern humans to live in the area were the Kebarans (conventionally c. 18,000 - 10,500 BC, but recent paleoanthropological evidence suggests that Kebarans may have arrived as early as 75,000 BC and shared the region with the Neanderthals for millennia before the latter died out).

Epipalaeolithic Period

They were followed by the Natufian culture (c. 10,500 BC - 8500 BC). (This and the other prehistoric cultures are named after archaeological sites, in the absence of any indication of what they called themselves.

Neolithic Period 8500–4300 BC

Yarmukians (c. 8500–4300 BCE). People began agriculture.

Chalcolithic Period 4300–3300 BC

Ghassulians (carbon dated c. 4300–3300 BC). People became urbanized and lived in city-states, including Jericho.


The area's location at the center of routes linking three continents made it the meeting place for religious and cultural influences from Egypt, Syria, Mesopotamia, and Asia Minor. It was also the natural battleground for the great powers of the region and subject to domination by adjacent empires.

Bronze Age : 3300–1200 BC

The use of the term Canaanite can be confusing. Archaeologists use it to refer to a long period of time (the entire Bronze Age) and a wide geographical region (ranging from modern Israel to the entire Levant). Thus all of the people in this time and place can be called Canaanites.

However, Canaanites proper were a smaller ethnic group radiating out of modern day Lebanon, who are mentioned in the Bible and Ancient Egyptian texts, and who are only one among many ethnic groups in this area. Most of these ethnic groups assimilated to the same wider culture and are sometimes difficult to distinguish from each other.

Early Canaanite Period (Early Bronze Age) 3300–2300 BC

There is cultural continuity within the local Semitic-speaking culture from the previous Chalcolithic Period, but now also intermingling with outside influences. The settlement patterns of this Period are still a matter of "guesswork". Some archaeologists suggest a group from the Arabian Peninsula (who trade with Mesopotamia) settled among the indigenous peoples who had been there since the original Semitic emigration from Africa. Some archaeologists suggest a group from Syria. Other archaeologists suggest the cultural developments are indigenous, and the outside influences result from trade. Of course, with trade routes come at least some immigration.

Middle Canaanite Period (Middle Bronze Age) 2300-1550 BC

Late Canaanite Period (Late Bronze Age) 1550–1200 BC

During the Late Canaanite Period (Late Bronze Age), The name Israelites starts to appear in history, mentioned in the Merneptah Stele of Ancient Egyt in the 13th century BC.

During the Late Canaanite, the emerging Israelites are a small part of Canaanite culture in language and customs.

They are virtually indistinguishable from their neighbors. Archaeologists have not yet reached a consensus about the precise origins of the Israelites.

Some archaeologists regard them as an outgrowth of the Canaanite culture, who were perhaps displaced during the unusually turbulent Late Canaanite Period, living as nomads, until settling the hill areas of Palestine.

Alternatively, Israelites are ancient Aramean immigrants from Aram-Naharaim (around the Syro-Turkish area of Mesopotamia).

Genetic testing has shown that, throughout the world, modern "Jews [are genetically] more closely related to groups from the north of the Fertile Crescent (Kurds, Turks and Armenians) than to their non “Jewish” neighbors." These ancient immigrants from Aram-Naharaim to the Palestine lived a nomadic life of commerce and herding with periodic stops for raising crops. They lived on the fringes of the unstable Canaanite society for centuries, acquiring the Canaanite language and material culture, before finally urbanizing across the hill areas of Palestine around the 13th century BC.

According to the tradition recorded in the Hebrew Bible’s book of Genesis (composed in the 9th/10th centuries BC), the Israelites descended from Abraham who is called a "wandering Aramean", whose family is associated with Aram-Naharaim, including the ancient places there, such as Haran and Teran in Turkey.

After Abraham, the Israelites are said to descend through Isaac, born in the land of Palestine, and then through their eponymous ancestor Jacob who was also called Israel.

Israel's sons often took Canaanite wives, adopting Canaanite customs. The Bible also describes a time when the Israelites relocated to Egypt, and following the Exodus back from Egypt.

Iron Age I : 1200–1000 BC

Palestine urbanizes across the hill areas .

Successive waves of migration brought other groups onto the scene. Around 1200 BC the Hittite empire was conquered by allied tribes from the north. The Phoenicians (who are the Canaanites of Lebanon, were temporarily displaced, but returned when the invading tribes showed no inclination to settle.

The Egyptians called the horde that swept across Asia Minor and the Mediterranean Sea the Sea Peoples. The Philistines (whose traces disappear before the 5th century BC are presently considered to have been among them.

Iron Age II : 1000–586 BC

Divided Monarchies of Judah and Israel (Iron Age IIB) 925–722 BC

Civil war schisms into Kingdoms of Judah and Israel

With the death of King Solomon around 925 BCE, the Israelites fell into civil war, and the kingdom split into the northern Kingdom of Israel and the southern Kingdom of Judah. The northern kingdom was far more wealthy and politically influential, but its monarchy was unstable with frequent intrigue and dynastic changes.

In the relative backwaters of the southern Kingdom of Judah, the Davidic Dynasty excercised some rule over the hill country and its vicinities for centuries until the Persian Period.

Several factors contrubuted to the stability of the southern monarchy. Its kings made a frequent practice of ruling alongside a son in a period of coregency.

Gradually, the kings centralized all religious activity to Jerusalem to the Temple located next to the king's palace.

Unlike “EL” ( God ) that was perceived as a universal deity in the north, “Yhwh” ( God ) was perceived in the south as a patron deity of the nation of Israel, thus worship of other gods equated to treason.

Throughout the Davidic Dynasty of the Kingdom of Judah, religious loyalty and loyalty to the king were consolidated.
Neo-Assyrian Period (Iron Age IIC) 722–586 BC

Neo-Assyrian Empire terminates the northern kingdom, but the southern Kingdom of Judah stays weakened.
In 722 BC, the northern Kingdom of Israel was destroyed by the Assyrians, many of it's inhabitants (mainly the elite amongst them) were deported (giving rise to the legend and loose term of "the Lost Tribes" and replaced by settlers from elsewhere in the Assyrian Empire. Many, however, probably fled to their southern Israelite sister kingdom of Judah, but others most likely stayed behind.

Neo-Babylonian Period (Iron Age III) 586–539 BC

The Babylonian Empire under Nebuchadnezzar conquered the (southern) Kingdom of Judah in 597–586 BC, and exiled the middle and upper classes of the Jews (that is, the citizens of the Kingdom of Judah, consisting mostly of the members of the tribe of Judah but also some members of the other tribes) to Babylonia, where they flourished.

Persian Period 539-333 BC

Cyrus II of Persia conquered the Babylonian Empire by 539 BC and incorporated Palestine into the Persian Empire. Cyrus organized the empire into provincial administrations called satrapies. The administrators of these provinces, called satraps, had considerable independence from the emperor. The Persians allowed free movement and some Jews and others to returned to the regions that the Bablyonians had exiled them from.

The exiled Jews who returned to the lands they had occupied encountered the Jews that had remained, surrounded by a much larger non-Jewish majority. One group of note (that exists up until this day) were the Samaritans, who adhered to most features of the Jewish rite and claimed to be descendants of the Assyrian Jews; they were not recognized as Jews by the returning exiles for various reasons ( mainly political).

Classical Period

Hellenistic Period 333–165 BC
Cultural legacy of the empire of Alexander the Great
In the early 330s BCE, Alexander the Great conquered the region, beginning an important period of Hellenestic influence in Palestine.

After Alexander's death in 323 BC, his empire was partitioned, and the competing Ptolemaic and Seleucid Empires occupied various portions of the eastern Mediterranean, including different parts of Palestine.

Hasmonean Period 165–63 BC

Jews were divided between the Hellenists who supported the adoption of Greek culture, and those who believed in keeping to the traditions of the past, which resulted in revolt among Jews in the 2nd century BC.

Roman Period 63 BCE–330 AD

Early Roman Period 63 BC–70 AD
Jesus of Nazareth, a Jewish carpenter and teacher of Galilaea inspired what will eventually evolve, through Paul of Tarsus, into Christianity.

Following the Roman conquest in 63 BC, parts of Palestine—first a client kingdom of the Roman Empire, after year 6 AD the Judaea Province—were in nearly constant revolt against Roman occupation.

Late Roman Period I 70–135 AD

The Great Jewish Revolt began in 66 CE and resulted in the enmity of the Romans in 70 CE, thereby Jews losing their preferred status granted by the Romans, and the sacking of the entire city of Jerusalem by the Roman army led by Titus Flavius

Late Roman Period II 135–220 AD

Romans rename the province of Palestina to Syria Palaestina, applying a name that had long been in use in the Hellenistic Period.

In 135 AD, the costly and useless Bar Kokhba's revolt, resulted in the re-establishment of Jerusalem as the Roman military colony of Aelia Capitolina,in which Jews generally were forbidden to set foot.

A number of events with far-reaching consequences took place, including religious schisms, such as Christianity branching off of Judaism.

The Romans destroyed the post Jesus Jewish community of the Mother Church in Jerusalem, which had existed since the time of Jesus. The line of Jewish bishops in Jerusalem, which started with James the Righteous as its first bishop, now ceases to exist. The Romans impose a new line of non-Jewish bishops in Jerusalem.

Christianity ceases to be a Jewish movement.

Late Roman Period III 220–330 AD
Christianity and Judaism separate
Byzantine Period 330–638 AD

The land of Syria Palaestina becames part of the Byzantine Empire after the division of the Roman Empire into east and west (a fitful process that was not finalized until 395 AD).

Around year 390 AD, the Byzantines redrew the borders of the Syria Palaestina.

The various Roman provinces were reorganized into two diocese of Palaestina.

In year 438 AD, Empress Eudocia allows Jews to return to Jerusalem to live peacefully.

The Nabateans roamed the Negev by the Roman Period, and by the Byzantine Period dominated the swath of sparsely populated deserts, from the Sinai to the Negev to the northwest coast of Arabia, the outlands that the Byzantines called the diocese of Palaestina Salutoris (meaning something like "near Palestine"). Its capital Petra was formally the capital of the Roman province of Arabia Petraea. The Nabateans also inhabited the outland of Jordan and southern Syria, improperly called the diocese of Arabia because its capital Bostra was within the northern extremity of the Roman province of Arabia Petrae. The origin of the Nabateans remains obscure, but they were Aramaic speakers, and the term "Nabatean" was the Arabic name for an Aramean of Syria and Iraq. By the third century during the Late Roman Period, the Nabateans stopped writing in Aramaic and began writing in Greek, and by the Byzantine Period they converted to Christianity.

The two diocese of Palaestina proper also became increasingly Christianized. They probably had a Christian majority by the time of Diocletian. Some areas, like Gaza, were well-known as pagan holdouts, and remained attached to the worship of Dagon and other deities as their ancestors had been for thousands of years.
Under Byzantine rule, the region became a center of Christianity, while retaining small Jewish and Samaritan communities (although the Samaritans were greatly reduced following Julianus ben Sabar’s revolt.)

In 613 AD, the Persian Sassanian Empire under Khosrau II invaded Palaestina. The Jewish minority under Benjamin of Tiberias assisted the conquering Persians, revolting against the Byzantine Empire under Heraclius in the hopes of trying to control Jerusalem autonomously.

In 614 AD , the Persians conquered Jerusalem, destroying most of the churches and expelling 37,000 Christians.

The Jews rejoiced at the demise of the Christians, and gained autonomy to some degree, but frustrated with its limitations and anticipating loss, turned around and offered to assist the Byzantines in return for amnesty for the revolt.

In 617 AD, the Persians signed a peace treaty with Byzantines. At that time the

Persians feeling betrayed by the Jews and expelled the Jewish population from Jerusalem, forbidding them to live within 3 miles of it.

In 625 AD, the Byzantinian army returned to the area, promising amnesty to Jews who had joined the Persians, and was greeted by Benjamin of Tiberias. In 629 AD, the Byzantine Emperor Heraclius marched into Jerusalem at the head of his army.

In 634 AD, the Byzantine Empire lost control of the entire Mideast. The Arab Islamic Empire under Caliph Umar conquered Jerusalem along with the lands of Mesopotamia, Syria, Palaestina, and Egypt.

Islamic Period

Arab Caliphate Period 638–1099 AD
Umayyad Period 638–750 AD
In 638 AD, the Christians of Jerusalem surrendered to the conquering armies of the Caliphate (Islamic Empire) under Caliph (Emperor) Umar, the second of the initial four Rashidun Caliphs.

Umar allowed seventy families from Tiberias in Galilee to move to Jerusalem to live.

The Arab conquerors colonized Palaestina, and over the centuries it acquired a Muslim, Arabic-speaking majority, through immigration, language shift and conversion.

In Arabic, the area approximating the Byzantine Diocese of Palaestina l was called Filastin, and the Diocese of Palaestina II in the north Urdun.

In 661 AD, with the assassination of Ali, the last of the Rashidun Caliphs, Muawiyah I became the uncontested Caliph and founded the Ummayad Dynasty.

Abbasid Period 750–1099 AD

The Abbasids overthrew the Umayyads in 750 AD

In the 900s, the Fatimids, a self-proclaimed Shia caliphate, took control. In the next century, Seljuk Turks invaded large portions of West Asia, including Asia Minor and Palestine.

Palestine and the Near East in 1135 AD, in the period between the First and Second Crusades.

Crusader Period 1099–1244 AD

After the fall of Jerusalem in 1187 AD, the Crusader Kingdom survived throughout Ayyubid Period until 1291 AD well into Mamluk Period, but here we will consider its peak period, until AD 1244.
Kingdom of Jerusalem Period 1099–1187 AD
The proximate cause of the Crusades, following 1095, by the Christian European powers was the desire to reconquer the birthland and holy land of Christianity, which had been lost to the Islamic Arab invasion of the Byzantine Roman empire in the 7th century. The Christian forces established the Kingdom of Jerusalem, which lasted from 1099 until 1291, though Saladin reconquered the city of Jerusalem in 1187 AD.

Ayyubid Period 1187–1244 AD

The Ayyubid Sultanate, founded by Saladin, controlled Jerusalem and some but not all of the region until 1250, when it was defeated by the Mamluk Sultanate of Egypt.

Mamluk Period 1244–1517 AD

The Mamluk Sultanate ultimately became a vassal state of the Ottoman Empire, in the wake of campaigns waged by Selim I (Selim I also known as "the Grim" or "the Brave", Yavuz in Turkish, the long name is Yavuz Sultan Selim in the 16th century.)

Ottoman Period 1517-1917 AD

In 1516 the Ottoman Turks occupied Palestine. The country became part of the Ottoman Empire. Constantinople appointed local governors. Public works, including the city walls, were rebuilt in Jerusalem by Suleiman the Magnificent in 1537.

Napoleon of France briefly waged war against the Ottoman Empire (allied then with Great Britain). His forces conquered and occupied cities in Palestine, but they were finally defeated and driven out by 1801.

In 1799 Napoleon announced a plan to establish a Jewish State in Palestine.

Turkish rule lasted until World War I.

Jewish immigration to Palestine, particularly to the "four sacred cities" (Jerusalem, Safed, Tiberias and Hebron), increased towards the end of Ottoman rule;

Jews of European origin lived mostly off donations , while many Sephardic Jews found themselves a trade.
Modern Period

British Mandate Period 1917–1948 AD

The rise of Zionism, a political movement started in Europe and Russia in the 19th century seeking to create a Jews homeland in Palestine by displacing non Jews, encouraged and financed Jewish immigration. By 1920, the Jewish population of Palestine was still significantly small.

At the subsequent 1919 Paris Peace Conference and Treaty of Versailles, Turkey's loss of its Middle East empire was formalized. The British had in the interim made two agreements. In the Hussein-McMahon Correspondence there was an undertaking to form an Arab state in exchange for the Great Arab Revolt and in the Balfour Declaration in 1917 to "favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people" while respecting the rights of the indigeneous majority.

McMahon's promises are seen by Arab nationalists as a pledge of immediate Arab independence, an undertaking violated by the region's subsequent partition into British and French League of Nations mandates under the secret Sykes-Picot Agreement of May 1916 which became the real cornerstone of the geopolitics structuring the entire region. Prior to the conference Emir Faisal, British ally and son of the king of the Hijaz, had agreed in the Faisal-Weizmann Agreement to support the immigration of Jews into Palestine and the creation of a Jewish state in Palestine, while creating a large Arab state based in Syria.

When the conference did not produce that Arab state, Faisal called instead for Palestine to become part of his new Arab Syrian kingdom.

In 1920 the Allied Supreme Council meeting at San Remo offered a Mandate for Palestine to Great Britain, but the borders and terms under which the mandate was to be held were not finalised until September 1922. Article 25 of the mandate specified that the eastern area (then known as Transjordan or Transjordania) did not have to be subject to all parts of the Mandate, notably the provisions regarding a Jewish national home. This was used by the British as one rationale to establish an Arab state, which it saw as at least partially fulfilling the undertakings in the Hussein-McMahon Correspondence.

On 11 April 1921 the British passed administration of the eastern region to the Hashemite Arab dynasty from the Hejaz what later became part of Saudi Arabia as the Emirate of Transjordan and on 15 May 1923 recognized it as a state.

Under the Mandate, Jewish immigration to Cisjordan Palestine increased substantially with a rise in Jewish nationalism, which encouraged Zionism. Between 1922 and 1946, Jewish immigration increased rapidly due to the refusal of the USA, France, Britain and other countries to allow Jewish immigration into their countries.

Palestinian Arab leaders strongly opposed the immigration. In 1936 the British Peel Commission advised that the western part of Palestine be divided between Arabs and Jews. The Arabs then launched the Great Uprising against British rule in an effort to end the immigration. The Jews, for their part, organized militia groups like the Irgun and Lehi to fight the British and the Haganah and Palmach to fight the Arabs.

By the time order was restored in March of 1939, more than 5,000 Arabs, 400 Jews, and 200 Britons were killed.
Israeli Period 1948 AD –Present
Soon after World War II, the British decided to leave Palestine. The Unite Nations attempted to solve the dispute by putting forward the 1947 UN Partition Plan, dividing the land area between the two populations, on November 29, 1947; the Jewish Agency accepted the plan, while the Palestinian Arabs, along with their allies elsewhere in the Arab world, rejected it as inadequate. The Arab-Jewish fighting within Palestine escalated. The plan was approved at the UN, and on May 14, 1948, the Jewish population declared independence as the state of Israel. Large numbers of Palestinian Arabs fled or were expelled from their homes during the fighting and to this day most have not been allowed to return Israel managed to maintain its independence and even expand its borders, but a new refugee problem, this one of Palestinian Arabs.

What remained of the territories allotted to the Arab state in Palestine was annexed by Jordan (the West Bank ) or occupied by Egypt (the Gaza Strip) from 1948 to 1967.
In June 1967 Israeli forces attacked Egypt and Syria, in a Pearl Harbor type attack .

As a result of that war, the Israel occupied the West Bank, Gaza Strip, Golan Heights, and the Sinai Peninsula bringing them under military rule.

The United Nation's Security Council passed Resolution 242, promoting the "land for peace" formula, which called for Israeli withdrawal from territories occupied in 1967 in return for the end of all states of belligerency.

Since that time, the Palestinians have struggled to assert their own independence, either in all the territories of Palestine or in the West Bank and Gaza Strip particularly.

“ Bar Lev Line “

Israel decided to build a barrier along the Suez Canal called the “ Bar Lev Line “

A military barrier which Israel had thought was unpenetrable by any army, especially the Egyptians.

After several failed attemps by Egypt to have Israel return the Siniai Peninsula to it’s sovereignty, Egypt crossed the Bar Lev Line, and was advancing to reclaim The Sinai Peninsula.

Massive USA support, materially and logistically, to Israel, stopped the Egyptian advance.

Upon realizing the folly of trying to hold on to the Sinai Peninsula, Israel decided to return the Sinai Peninsula to Egypt with guarantees from the USA.

Oslo Peace Accords, Intifada, Separation Barrier, Road Map 1993 AD –Present
After the First Intifada, attempts at the peace process in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict were made at the Madrid Conference of 1991. As the process progressed, in 1993 the Israelis allowed Chairman and President of the Palestine Liberation Organization Yassir Arafat to return to the region.
Following the historic 1993 Oslo Peace Accords between Palestinians and Israel (the "Oslo Accords"), which gave the Palestinians limited self-government in some parts of the Occupied Territories through the Palestinian Authority, and other detailed negotiations, proposals for a Palestinian state gained momentum.

They were soon followed in 1994 by the Israel-Jordan Treaty of Peace. An attempt was made to end the struggle at the Camp David 2000 Summit between Palestinians and Israel but no agreement was reached. To date, efforts to resolve the conflict have ended in deadlock, and the people of Palestine, Jews and Arabs, are engaged in a bloody conflict, called variously the "Arab-Israeli conflict" or "Israeli-Palestinian conflict".

From 1987 to 1993, the First Palestinian Intifada against Israel took place. After few years of on-and-off negotiations, the second Intifada erupted in 2000. This was known as the Al-Aqsa Intifada and began after a controversial visit by Likud party chairman Ariel Sharon (who subsequently became Israel's Prime Minister) to the Temple Mount in Jerusalem - holy to both Jews and Muslims.

The events were highlighted by Israeli invasions and killings of Palestinians civilians, and Palestinian retaliation in Israel.

Israel began building a complex apartheid barrier to separate itself from the West Bank in 2002.

Also in 2002, the Road map for peace calling for the resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was proposed by a "quartet": the United States, European Union, Russia, and United Nations. U.S. President George W. Bush in a speech on June 24, 2002 called for an independent Palestinian state living side by side with Israel in peace. Bush was the first U.S. President to explicitly call for such a Palestinian state, but did not follow through on his call.

According to Israel's unilateral disengagement plan of 2004, it withdrew settlers and most of the military presence from within the Gaza strip, but maintained control of the air space and coast. Israel also dismantled four insignificant settlements in northern West Bank in September 2005. Following Israel's withdrawal, Israel failed to abide by a 'calming' (de facto ceasefire) negotiated with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. Israelis fired into Palestinian populated areas, and attempted to strangle the Palestinian economy.

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submitted by Murat Bey