The Ancient Period Of Palestine

The ancient period of Palestine is as fascinating as it is historic. In fact, the earliest humans remains were found in Ubeidiya – some three kilometers south of the Sea of Galilee. These remains are said to be dated c. 1.5 million years ago — during the Ice Age. It is also important to note that the region even saw the earliest migrants from Africa. These, of course, were Homo erectus species — or humans that were able to stand upright. During the Proto-Canaanite Period, the region was synonymous with rugged terrain and small hills. There were mountains that surrounded the trees and — what would eventually become –villages.

The first pre-historic dig in Palestine dates back to 1925. This was in the area of Wadi El Amud between the Sea of Galilee and Safed. This is where the discovery of the Palestinian Man in the Zuttiyeh Cave took place. This means there was human development in the region — and in fact, Homo sapien fossils were found in rock shelters near Nazareth and further South. This was part of the paleoanthropological site dig that took place during the mid-20s as well. Studies of these fossils show a time period of 90 — 100,000 years ago — with indications of tribal and ritual behaviors. This meant that the earliest settlers in the area were significantly intelligent and cunning.

Mount Carmel is also a historic area in the region. In fact, Palestinians herald the area for Cave of Kebara. This ancient site was also home to human settlers during 60,000 — 48,000 BP. The Tabun Cave was even occupied by tribes during the Lower and Middle Ages — 40,000 — 500,000 years ago. The area is also known as the Levant, which means an area or region made up of inter-related tribes and peoples. For example: the Middle East is a Levant since it contains Iraq, Iran, Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, and other Arab nations. Ancient Palestinians also lived in the area of Es Skhul for a long period of time. This was also the place for the earliest human burial cemeteries, along with ground stone tools found during many archaeological digs.

Ancient Palestinian land included the Shuqba Caves in Ramallah. The latter, of course, is a holy area situated in the modern-day West Bank. Similarly, Wadi Khareitun near Bethlehem was a haven for stone, wood and animal bone tools. These were directly related to the Natufian culture, and other remains of ancient tribes have been found in Jericho, Beidha, Ein Mallaha and Tel Abu Hureura. Some of the first settlements were also found near Tel es-Sultan in Jericho. This included a religious shrine, along with a long staircase and several walls. Evidence shows that these settlements date back to 9,000 BCE — along with Gaza, Sinai and other areas that were inhabited by Ancient Palestinians. It is important to know, however, that the Sinai establishments were comprised of peoples that originated from Egypt and Syria.

By the Bronze Age (2200-3000 BCE), new migrant groups had entered the region. This was mainly due to the demand for urban fabrics and textiles. There were several Canaanite city-states form in the plains and coastal regions as well. This included mud-brick homes, along with defensive walls and farms. Irrigation ditches were also built to secure some of the earliest farming and plant cropping in the region. The Canaanite city-states traded — and had diplomatic relations –with Syria and Egypt. There was also an influx of nomads and wanderers into the region by 2,300 BCE. These Bedouins mainly came from east of the Jordan River and upper desert areas.

Ancient Palestinians were heavily influenced by surrounding civilizations. This includes Egypt, along with Syria, Crete, Phoenicia and Ancient Mesopotamia (Iraq). In fact, the Palestinians learned about agriculture and pottery making from their neighbors. Similarly, they taught their neighbors how to harvest crops — especially fruits and vegetables. A true delight in the region back then were grapes and olives — which grew naturally on trees across ancient Palestinian lands.

The Hellenic Period Of Palestine

The Hellenistic period covers the tumultuous time between the death of Alexander the Great in 323 BC and the emergence of the Roman Empire.

Alexander the Great conquered the region in the late 330s; however, after his death, control of the region changed hands several times during the Diadochi wars between the rulers Laomedon of Mytilene, Ptolemy I and Antigonus I. Ptolemy I eventually proved victorious in 312 BCE by defeating Antigonus’ son, Demetrius I, at the Battle of Gaza; however, he withdrew from the region shortly thereafter.

Ptolemy I re-captured the region after Antigonus I was killed at the Battle of Ipsus, which Ptolemy did not take part in. This left the victors, Seleucus I and Lysimachus, to divide up the Antigonid Empire between them. Ptolemy then decided to make a pre-emptive strike against Seleucus I, which initiated the Syrian Wars, during which the northern portion of Palestine fell to the Seleucid Empire in 219 BCE. The Seleucids then advanced on Egypt, but were defeated in 217 BCE at the Battle of Raphia. In 200 BCE, Southern Palestine also fell under the control of the Seleucid Empire following the Battle of Panium.

During this period, the region experienced significant growth and development such as urban planning and the establishment of well-built cities. Trade and commerce also flourished in areas such as Ashkelon, Jaffa, Jerusalem, and Gaza. While the Persians did not interfere with the internal affairs of their subjects, the Greeks followed a strict policy of Hellenization, which encouraged the adoption of Greek culture. The continued pressures of Hellenization by the Seleucids resulted in the Maccabean Revolt, an uprising in the Judean Mountains.
Although this revolt was quashed in 160 BCE at the Battle of Elasa, the Seleucid Empire began to rapidly decline, beginning with the overthrow of King Alexander Balas by Demetrius II in 145 BCE at the Battle of Antioch, which was the empire’s capital.

A civil war then erupted in 116 BCE between Seleucid’s half-brothers, Antiochus VIII Grypus and Antiochus IX Cyzicenus. This led to a breakup of the kingdom and certain principalities being granted independence, including Judea. This allowed the leader of Judea, John Hyrcanus, to carry out a military conquest in 110 BCE against the independent Hasmonean kingdom by raising a mercenary army, which significantly increased Judea’s regional influence over Jerusalem.

The Hasmoneans gradually extended their authority over a large part of the region and forced the populations of the neighboring regions to convert to Hellenism. This created an alliance between the Judeans, Samaritans, Galileans and others who fought for control over the region, which gradually became known as Judaea. During the Third Mithridatic War of 73–63 BCE, the Roman Republic established its influence in the region.

Palestine In The Middle Ages

Palestine is an area rich in history that is considered the home of both Judaism and Christianity. It is a history that begins more than 1.5 million years ago where remains found have indicated it started as a migration route. The earliest settlements re-reported to have existed more than 100,000 years ago when homo sapiens lived side by side with Neanderthals. To understand the rich and complex culture of this region you must first understand its extensive history.

Palestine in the Middle Ages

The Middle Ages marked a period of time from the 5th century to the 15th century A.D. In this region it marks the end of Byzantine rule and the beginning of Islamic rule. The Middle Ages would be a tumultuous period as the majority of the history in this region. This time is often divided into sections, the Rashidun, Umayyad, Abbasid and Fatimid Caliphates, the time of the Kingdom of Jerusalem Crusades, and the time of the Anubis, Mameluke, Bahri, and Mameluke Burji dynasties.
Rashidun, Umayyad, Abbasid and Fatimid Caliphates

Rashidun Caliphate(638-661AD)- This Caliphate would mark the end of the Byzantine era and the beginning of Islamic rule. Caliph Umar would be the first ruler to reclaim the site of the Temple Mount, also known as Haram al-Sharif. The site had fallen into ruins under Byzantine rule. The Rashidun Caliphate should see its end with the assignation of Caliph Ali ending the first Fitna. During this time both Jews and Christians were considered “people of the book” and were given freedoms and rights not extended to other religions outside of Muslims.

Umayyad Caliphate (661- 744) -This period would mark the beginning of the second Fitna. Caliph Muawiyah would be one of the standout Caliphs in the Umayyad Caliphate. He would commission the building of the Dome of the Rock built on the Temple Mount. Caliph Al-Walid constructed the Al-Aqsa Mosque on the Temple Mount during his rule. The status of Christians and Jews as the “people of the book” would be made official during this period. The Umayyad Caliphate would reopen trading channels between Jerusalem and Europe.

Abbasid Caliphate (744-969 AD) – In 744 the Umayyad army would be defeated and the Abbasid Caliphate moved the capital from Jerusalem to Baghdad. This period would become known as the Islamic Golden Age. During this time several coastal regions and port cities would be fortified, including the rebuilding of the Dome of the Rock after an earthquake. Relations with the Europeans would also be fortified with new connections to King of Charlemagne. The relocation of the capital would be the downfall of the Caliphate as they lost control of the western regions.

Fatimid Caliphate (969 – 1073) – This is the last Caliphate to rule in the region before Seljuk occupation and the first of the Christian Crusades. Notable events during this time include the attempt to expand into the Byzantine Empire unsuccessfully. The Fatimid Caliphate moved the capital to Cairo during this time. After the region would fall into Seljuk control.
Kingdom of Jerusalem or Crusades (1099-1180)

The Seljuk control of the region would prompt the Byzantine emperor, Alexis I Komnenos, to try to end the divide between the eastern and western orthodox churches. He would seek help from Pope Urban II to take control from the Seljuks and so would begin the Christian Crusades.

Ayyubid, Mamluk, Bahri, and Mamluk Burji Dynasties (1187 – 1486)

The first two Crusades and the Kingdom of Jerusalem would see its end at the hands of the Ayyubid General Saladin. Saladin would retake Jerusalem only to destroy the fortified city rather than letting a fortified stronghold from being taken in the third, fourth, or fifth Crusades. The region was once again returned to Ayyubid control at the end of the sixth Crusade.

Sultan Turanshah was an Ayyubid with a Mamluk army. In a complicated turn of events, the Mamluk people would gain control from the Ayyubid dynasty who would then be overtaken by the Mamluk Burji dynasty. The Mamluk Burji would later be defeated by the Ottoman, in 1486, at the Battle of Mark Dabiq.

Modern Age Period Of Palestine

Until 1948, Palestine was the name used to describe the geographic area found between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea. In the entirety of its history, several empires have controlled this land. These empires are the Romans, Assyrians, Byzantine, Babylonian, and the Ottoman.

After World War I, the League of Nations issued a Mandate in 1922 that gave the United Kingdom the right to rule over this land. The story of modern-day Palestine started with the termination of the Mandate given to the British, the creation of the state of Israel, and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that followed.
The Partition of the Palestinian Land

The United Nations in 1947 proposed a plan to partition this land. This planned partition was titled the “United Nations General Assembly Resolution 181 (II).” In this resolution, Britain’s plan to end its rule over the land and its recommendation that the land be divided into two states, one for the Arabs and one for the Jews was noted. It went on to recommend that the United Nations protect and administer the Jerusalem-Bethlehem area.

In the resolution, there were also plans for the protection of religious minorities and for an economic union between the two proposed states. Apart from that, there were highly detailed descriptions of the recommended boundaries for the proposed Jewish and Arab states. The British were to withdraw their forces by August 1948 and by October of that same year, the two new independent states were to be established.
First Arab-Israeli War (1948)

The Partition Plans were accepted by the Jewish leaders, but the Arabs rejected it. Threats of taking up military actions to prevent the partition of this land were made by the Arab League. The Jews went ahead and declared their independence by establishing the state of Israel in August, a day before the expiry of the British Mandate. They established their state within the borders set out in the Partition Plans. The neighboring Arab countries then declared war on the just formed State of Israel. This marked the beginning of the Arab-Israeli War.

The war ended in 1949 and the borders between the countries that engaged in the war were established under the Armistice Agreements. Egypt was given the Gaza Strip, Jordan got control over East Jerusalem and the West Bank, and Israel got control over some of the areas that were set aside for the Arab state in 1948.
The Six Day War

This war was begun on 5th June 1967 and ended on 10th June of the same year. The country that emerged victoriously was Israel where it also seized control from the Syrians of the Golan Heights, East Jerusalem and the West Bank from Jordan, and from Egypt the control over the Sinai Peninsula and the Gaza Strip.
RiseĀ of the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO)

The PLO was recognized by the Arab League as the only legitimate representative of the Palestinian people in 1974. The League then relinquished its role as the representative of the Palestinians and PLO gained observer status at the UN General Assembly. In 1988, the Palestinian Declaration of Independence was approved by the PLO in Algiers, Tunisia.
The Intifada

Between 1987 and 1993, there was a Palestinian uprising called the Intifada in the West Bank and Gaza Strip and parts of Jerusalem. This was as a result of military occupation, confiscation of land, and repression.
The Peace Process and Drive for Recognition of Palestinian Statehood

The Oslo Accords were signed in 1993. These accords were to provide a framework for the peaceful relationship between the two parties. However, the implementation of these accords suffered a major setback following the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin who was the Prime Minister of Israel and signer of the accords. Other peace summits have been held ever since to try and solve the conflict.

Mahmoud Abbas, President of the Palestinian National Authority, which is a branch of the PLO gave a speech in September 2011 declaring his intentions to request for the recognition of the Palestinian land as a state. This application was delivered to the UN Secretary-General in 23rd September 2011.

Guide To The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

The Arab opposition to Zionism is marked from the beginning of the British mandate on Palestine with many riots and massacres and an Arab rebellion between 1936 and 1939. After the Second World War, the Jews also revolted. Unable to manage the situation, the British forwarded the case to the United Nations, which in late 1947 voted to partition Palestine. As a result, a civil war broke out, which was followed by the first Arab-Israeli war six months later.

The region witnessed the exodus of Palestinian Arabs during this war, the arrival in Israel of Jewish refugees from Arab countries between 1948 and 1952, then a new exodus from the West Bank to Jordan during the Six Day War. The events also led to the arrival in Israel of nearly 600,000 Jews from Arab countries. Population movements have led to the problem of Palestinian refugees, nearly 5 million today who have not been integrated by their host countries.

Since the rejection of the partition plan, the United Nations has so far issued nearly a hundred resolutions via the Security Council and the General Assembly. The resolutions were aimed at resolving the conflict. Several negotiations and peace conferences have also taken place.


The conflict developed over several distinct periods: From 1948 to 1967, the territory of Mandatory Palestine was administered largely by Israel, founded in 1948, with the Gaza Strip coming under the control of Egypt and the West Bank being occupied and then annexed in 1950 by Jordan. From 1967 to 1993, the outcome of the Six-Day War brought the West Bank and Gaza populations under Israeli administration. Palestinian national sentiment is expressed by the voice of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO).

From 1993 to 2000, the Oslo process led to the recognition of the State of Israel by the PLO and the establishment of a Palestinian Interim Authority. From 2000 to 2005, the Second Intifada marked the blockage of the Is-raeli-Palestinian peace process. The Gaza Strip, from which Israel withdrew in 2005 is led by Hamas, which took control by force in June 2007. Since 2006, the Gaza Strip has been blockaded by Israel.

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict refers to the conflict between Palestinians and Israelis in the Middle East. It opposes two nationalisms (Jewish nationalism and Palestinian Arab nationalism) and includes an important religious dimension, especially since Israel is a Jewish state with a Jewish majority and Palestinians are predominantly Muslim.


Before 1917, the region was under the authority of the Ottoman Empire. The Christian and Muslim populations who lived there were defined in terms of religious communities rather than nationality. The Jewish population was divided into two communities: the ancient Yishuv, that is, the long-established community in this territory, and the new Yishuv, made up of Jews who have been settled for a few decades at most, mainly motivated by Zionism.

In 1917, the British conquered Palestine, which they administered officially from 1920 under a mandate of the League of Nations. The conflict between Yishuv and the Arabs of Palestine began mainly since the Balfour Declaration of 1917. From 1920 to 1948, the United Kingdom exercised its mandate on Mandatory Palestine. Conflicts erupted between Arabs and Jews, but also between these populations and the British authorities.

The roots of the conflict lie in the global context of exacerbating European nationalism and weakening of the Ottoman Empire in the progressive opposition of the objectives of Zionism in Europe and Arab nationalism in the Middle East.

The Zionist World Organization was founded in 1897 in Basel, where the Zionist movement held its first congress and elected Theodor Herzl as its leader. The mission she gives herself is to prepare for the Jewish people a home in Palestine, a historic region of the Land of Israel. For this, the World Zionist Organization is buying land and promoting immigration.

At the same time, the first big waves of Jewish immigration began and accelerated with the new pogroms, especially those of Kishinev that bring tens of thousands of immigrants from Eastern Europe to Palestine. At the same time, in 1908, the first Arab nationalist newspapers Al-Karmel and Falistin were founded.

At the end of the Ottoman period, the Jewish population is estimated between 56,000 and 82,000 people and the Arab population (Muslim, Jewish, Christian and others) to more than 600,000 people.