Ancient Judaea as a Roman Province

Immediately following the deposition of Herod Archelaus in 6 CE as a client king, Judea was turned into a Roman province. Introduction The Roman province of Judea, sometimes spelled in its original Latin forms of Iudæa or Iudaea to distinguish it from the geographical region of Judea, incorporated the regions of Judea, Samaria and Idumea,[…]

A History of Ancient Israel and Judah

Following the installation of client kingdoms under the Herodian dynasty, the Province of Judea was wracked by civil disturbances. Introduction The Kingdom of Israel and the Kingdom of Judah were related kingdoms from the Iron Age period of the ancient Levant. The Kingdom of Israel emerged as an important local power by the 10th century[…]

Poverty in Ancient Greece and Israel: Plato’s Nomoi and Deuteronomy, a Comparison

Plato’s Nomoi and the Book of Deuteronomy dealt intensively with the fissures between rich and poor within society. Abstract The way in which a nation’s economy is structured is of great importance for the material welfare of its people as well as the people’s relationship with the state and the operation of the state itself.[…]

Ancient Handicrafts in Rural Lebanon

Agricultural activities in rural Lebanon date back to Phoenician times. Introduction Traditional Lebanese handicrafts are considered to be a major sector of the living cultural heritage in the rural areas of Lebanon. Transmitted from one generation to another, traditional rural Lebanese handicrafts have been able to persist from the Phoenician and Roman periods until the present day.[…]

Ancient Israelite Art

Art reveals many aspects of the ancient Kingdom of Israel. Introduction Ancient Israelite art traditions are evident especially on stamps seals, ivories from Samaria, and carvings, each with motifs connecting it to more general artistic traditions throughout the Levant. Ancient Israel, and therefore its art, existed from about the 10th century BCE until the late[…]

Asherah: Ancient Canaanite Mother Goddess, Consort to Yahweh

Together, El (sometimes Yahweh) and Ashera were viewed as the father and mother of the gods. Introduction Asherah was a major northwest Semitic mother goddess, appearing also in Akkadian sources as Ashratu, in Hittite as Asherdu and in Ugaritic as Athirat. She was the consort of the chief deity El and the mother of 70[…]

A History of the Ancient Temple of Jerusalem

Sacrifices of various types were central to the Temple’s function. Introduction Also known as Solomon’s Temple, the Temple of Jerusalem was the national center of Israelite religious life, especially for the offering of sacrifices, but also as a cultural and intellectual center. It was located on Jerusalem’s Temple Mount. Its architecture and rich furnishings are[…]

Philistia: A History of Palestine since the Stone Age

Human remains, the “Palestine Man”, found south of Lake Tiberias in the Zuttiyeh Cave, date back as early as 600,000 BCE. Introduction Palestine is one of several names for the geographic region between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River and various adjoining lands. Different geographic definitions of Palestine have been used over the millennia,[…]

Jehoash: King of Ancient Judah and a Modern Archaeological Forgery

Jehoash strictly enforced the exclusive worship of the Hebrew God, Yahweh, and was on shaky ground politically. Introduction Jehoash, sometimes written Joash or Joas, was the king of the ancient Kingdom of Judah, the sole surviving son of Ahaziah. William F. Albright dates his reign to 837-800 B.C.E., while E. R. Thiele puts it at[…]

Searching for Israelite Origins in Religious and Secular Sources

Most Jews today are the descendants of the Israelites, as are the Samaritans, only a few of who still survive. Introduction The Israelites, as described in the Hebrew Bible, were the descendants of the patriarch Jacob, later known as Israel. Jacob’s 12 sons formed the 12 tribes of Israel after emigrating to Egypt. Under the[…]

Jewish Christians in Ancient Israel

Jewish Christians predominated in the movement of early Christianity. They bore the brunt of persecution from their fellow Jews. Introduction Jewish Christians (sometimes called also Hebrew Christians or Christian Jews) is a term which can have two meanings. The first describes the members of the early Christian movement, who were Jews that accepted Jesus of[…]

A History of Hebron from Ancient Judaea to Today

Hebron has long been a city of conflict between Palestinian residents and Israeli settlers. Introduction Hebron is a city in the southern Judea region of the West Bank, 30 km south of Jerusalem. It is home to some 120,000 Palestinians and 600-800 Israeli settlers. Another 7,000 Israelis live in the suburb of Qiryat Arba (or[…]

Genetics and the Archaeology of Ancient Israel

Modern DNA analyses give an indication of what might be learned from ancient studies. By Dr. Roy J. KingAssociate Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Science, EmeritusStanford University Who were the ancient Israelites? This question has been endlessly debated but almost no attention has been paid to their biology. That is now about to change, and[…]

Ancient, Medieval, and Modern Jerusalem

Jerusalem has been an urban center for approximately 5,000 years. Introduction Jerusalem is the capital of the modern nation of Israel and a major holy city for the three Western traditions of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. It sits on spurs of bedrock between the Mediterranean Sea and the Dead Sea area. To the north and west, it[…]

Ancient Judaean Technology

Archaeological remains attest to a rise in urbanization in the 10th century BCE as reflected in building technologies. Introduction Though the kingdom of Judah was not particularly notable in terms of technological developments, technology, nonetheless, played a central role in its rise as a political power in the region. Emerging in the 10th century BCE, it[…]

A History of Jerusalem from the Ancient World

The city’s history continues to make it a central location in human affairs. Introduction Jerusalem is an ancient Middle Eastern city of key importance to the religions of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Perhaps no city on earth binds the hearts of believers in so complete a way. Today Jerusalem is the capital of Israel and[…]

Herod the Great: Rome’s Puppet King of Ancient Judaea

Herod was a client king of Rome, but his route to the throne was not a straightforward one. By Mark CartwrightHistorian Introduction Herod I, or Herod the Great (c. 75 – 4 BCE), was the king of Judea who ruled as a client of Rome. He has gained lasting infamy as the ‘slaughterer of the[…]

Jezebel: Phoenician Princess of Ancient Sidon, Queen of Israel

She was a woman who refused to submit to the religious beliefs and practices of her husband and his culture. Introduction Jezebel was the Phoenician Princess of Sidon (9th century BCE) whose story is told in the Hebrew Tanakh (the Christian Old Testament) in I and II Kings where she is portrayed unfavorably as a[…]

Mesopotamian Effects on Israel during the Iron Age

Archaeology, epigraphy, and literature function in tandem in order to establish a more coherent account. Introduction The Iron Age in the traditional Ancient Near Eastern chronology ranges from somewhere around 1200 BCE to 333 BCE. It begins from the era when it was first thought iron came to be used up to the ascendency of[…]

Ancient Israelite Technology

Looking at ancient Israeli construction and architecture, writing, industrial tools, and weapons of war. Introduction Technology enabled ancient Israel, the Northern Kingdom excluding Judah, to be economically prosperous and establish itself as a major political power as early as the 10th century BCE, steadily growing until its destruction in 720 BCE. Some of the most important[…]

The Crusades: Consequences and Effects

Many exaggerated claims have been made concerning the effects and consequences of the crusades on life in the Middle Ages and later. By Mark CartwrightHistorian Introduction The crusades of the 11th to 15th century CE have become one of the defining events of the Middle Ages in both Europe and the Middle East. The campaigns[…]

The Crusades: Causes and Goals

What were the motivating factors for crusaders, from the Pope to the humblest warrior? By Mark CartwrightHistorian Introduction The Crusades were a series of military campaigns organised by Christian powers in order to retake Jerusalem and the Holy Land back from Muslim control. There would be eight officially sanctioned crusades between 1095 CE and 1270[…]

The Kingly Pursuits of Herod during the Augustan Period

Herod built on a Roman scale. King Herod had a substantial architectural heritage to his name in the Levant by the time of his death in 4 BCE. As one of Rome’s most loyal client kings, he incorporated much Roman-style architecture throughout the lands he ruled. He visited Rome in 40 BCE and returned two[…]

How Modern Disputes Have Reshaped the Ancient Canaanite City of Banias

Banias was first settled by the Canaanites c.198 BCE and later renamed Caesarea Philippi by the Romans in 4 BCE. In the complex world of Middle Eastern boundary disputes, spare a thought for Banias, the ancient City of Pan. Straddling a strategic crossroads, it has for centuries seen masters come and go. Today’s tug-of-war is[…]

Archaeology and Religion in Late Bronze Age Canaan

Numerous excavations and a fairly large number of contemporary written documents give us a good picture of the religious system and cult practices in Canaan. Abstract Dozens of temples were excavated in the Canaanite city-states of the Late Bronze Age. These temples were the focal points for the Canaanites’ cultic activities, mainly sacrifices and ceremonial[…]

Abel Beth Maacah: A 3,000-Year-Old Oracle Cult in Ancient Israel

A shrine to a “wise woman” fulfilling an oraculor role. By Philippe BohstromArchaeologist The town of Abel Beth Maacah was known in biblical times as a place for conflict resolution, we may divine from references in scripture. Now archaeologists have found a strange shrine that they think may have been associated with the “wise woman” of the[…]

Medieval Jerusalem: A Period of Decline

After about 1244 CE, the city remained a backwater of the late medieval Muslim empires and would not again exceed a population of 10,000 until the 16th century. Introduction The history of Jerusalem during the Middle Ages is generally one of decline; beginning as a major city in the Byzantine Empire, Jerusalem prospered during the[…]

The Archaeological Excavations at Magdala

According to historical sources and archaeological facts, Magdala was an important town with social and economic development. Introduction Magdala, known as Migdal in Hebrew (מִגְדָּל: tower) and also as Taricheae (Ταριχέα, from the Greek Τάριχος or tarichos: preserved by salting or drying fish), was an important fishing town during the first century CE on the western shore[…]