There is evidence to indicate the earliest migration of hominids out of Africa to Israel. Canaanite tribes are archaeologically evident since the Middle Bronze Age, and the Kingdoms of Israel and Judah appeared during the Iron Age. The Neo-Assyrian Empire decimated Israel around 720 BCE and it was later conquered by the Babylonian, Persian and Hellenistic Empires, which had existed as Jewish autonomous provinces. The Maccabean Revolt led to an independent Hasmonean kingdom by 110 BCE, which in 63 BCE also was a client state of the Roman Republic and installed the Herodian dynasty in 37 BCE. In 6 CE, it became the Roman province of Judea, which remained a Roman province, until the Jewish revolts failed leading to widespread destruction, the expulsion of the Jewish population and the region being called Syria Palaestina. Jewish presence in the region remained to a certain extent over the centuries. In the 7th century CE, the Levant was removed from the Byzantine Empire by the Arabs and held in Muslim control until the First Crusade of 1099, followed by the Ayyubid conquest of 1187. The Mamluk Sultanate of Egypt extended its control over the Levant in the 13th century until its defeat by the Ottoman Empire in 1517. Throughout the 19th century, a national awakening among Jews and the rebirth of the Zionist movement in the diaspora followed by waves of immigration to Ottoman Syria and later Mandatory Palestine.
The three major monotheistic religions – Christianity, Islam and Judaism – have strong ties to Israel. From palace complexes and ancient fortifications, to manmade catacombs and Roman ports – there is a very rich history woven into the fabric of this country.
Over the millennia, Israel has felt the footprints of conquerors and settlers, including Canaanites, Israelites, Egyptians, Assyrians, Babylonians, Persians, Greeks, Romans, Arabs, Crusaders, Ottomans, and even Imperial Britons, all of whom have left their mark. This rich tapestry of inhabitants have made Israel a wonderful and interesting destination.
14 November 2023
2 November 2023