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Palestine, History And People

Region of the eastern Mediterranean, . The area referred to as Palestine today generally extends from the Mediterranean Sea (including the coast of Gaza) on the west to the Jordan River on the east and from the international boundary Lebanon in the north , with its southernmost extension reaching the Gulf of Aqaba, in the south. The term Palestine has been associated variously and sometimes controversially with a small region of the eastern Mediterranean. Both the geographic area designated by, and the political status of, the name have changed over the course of some three millennia. The region, or a part of it, is also known as the Holy Land and is held sacred among Jews, Christians, and Muslims



(Old Stone Age) in Palestine was first fully examined by the archaeologist. in her excavations of caves on the slopes of Error! . in 1929-34. (In this historical survey the term "Palestine" is used as conventional shorthand to refer to the area comprising most of Palestine and contemporary Israel . The eastern boundaries of this area have fluctuated throughout history, and specific definitions are dependent on and will emerge from the historical context.) The finds showed that at this stage Palestine was culturally linked with Europe, and human remains were recovered showing that the inhabitants were of the same group as the Neanderthal inhabitants of Europe. The Mesolithic Period (Middle Stone Age) is best represented by a culture called Natufian, known from excavations at 'Ain Mallaha and Jericho. The Natufians lived in caves, as did their Paleolithic predecessors, but there is a possibility that they were experimenting in agriculture, for the importance to them of the collection of grain is shown by the artistic care that they lavished on the carving of the hafts of their sickles and in the provision of utensils for grinding. During the subsequent Neolithic Period (New Stone Age) humans gradually undertook the domestication of animals, the cultivation of crops, , and the building of towns (e.g., Jericho by 7000 BC).

Excavations also have provided a picture of events in Palestine in the 5th-4th millennium BC, during which the transition from the Neolithic to the Copper Age took place. It was probably in the 4th millennium that the Ghassulians immigrated to Palestine. Their origin is not known; they are called Ghassulians because the pottery and flints characteristic of their settlements first attracted attention in the excavations of Tulaylat al-Ghassul in the Jordan Valley. There was a permanent village site with several successive layers of occupation, and the site probably was associated with reasonably efficient agriculture. The phase can be called Copper Age, since copper axes were found at Tulaylat al-Ghassul, with pottery and a flint industry allied to those of Tulaylat al-Ghassul but not identical with them. At Beersheba there was a copper-working industry, which, presumably, imported ore from Sinai, and there was also evidence of an ivory-working industry, both proving the growth of a class of specialist craftsmen. Discoveries near 'En Gedi have revealed a shrine of this period, and basketry, ivory, leather, and hundreds of copper ritual objects were found . The region in which the Ghassulian settlements have been found is mainly in the south of Palestine, with an extension up the coastal plain and its fringes. These settlements seem to have died out and disappeared in the last centuries of the 4th millennium, at about the same time as a new population immigrated, probably from the north. Thereafter, the composite elements in Palestine consisted of the indigenous Neolithic-Chalcolithic population, the Ghassulians, and these latest immigrants; in time the peoples were amalgamated into what was to become the sedentary urban population of the Early Bronze Age in the 3rd millennium


There was no sharp break between the Middle and the Late Bronze ages in Palestine. Shortly before the death of Ahmose I (1514 BC), the first native pharaoh of the New Kingdom, the Egyptian armies began to conquer Palestine, probably completing their task during his successor's reign. Under Queen Hatshepsut (1479-58), Palestine revolted against Egyptian domination, but the rebellion was put down firmly by her successor, Thutmose III, who established a stable administration, maintained through the reigns of his immediate successors. Egyptian administrative documents excavated in both Egypt and Palestine show in considerable detail how the provincial government was organized and even how it operated during the century 1450-1350 BC. Documents show, for example, that the land of Retenu (Syria-Palestine) was divided into three administrative districts, each under an Egyptian governor. The third district (Canaan) included all of Palestine from the Egyptian border to Byblos. This period is often known as the Amarna Age and is vividly illustrated by several hundred cuneiform letters found in Egypt at Tell el Amarna, site of the capital of the "heretic king" Akhenaton. The unusual concern of the pharaohs with the affairs of Palestine was chiefly a result of the fact that control of it was necessary for the defense of Phoenicia and southern Syria, menaced by Mitanni down to about 1375 and by the Hittite empire after that date.


After the destruction of Jerusalem, a legion (X Fretensis) was stationed on the site, and the rank of the provincial governor was raised from procurator to legatus Augusti, signifying a change from equestrian to senatorial rank. Caesarea Maritima, the governor's residence, became a Roman colony, and, as a reward for the loyalty of the Greeks in the revolt, a new pagan city, Neapolis (modern Nablus), was founded at Shechem, the religious centre of the Samaritans

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Palestine History: Under Islamic rule to AD 1900
Palestine History: AD 1900 T0 1948
AD 1948 T0 Present:
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