Urbanization of Ancient Israel

 This page describes the history of the urbanization in Israel. Examples are given, and mapped to the sites that are featured in BibleWalks.com.

Tell Kassis

 

 

 

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Contents:

Overview

Stages

Examples

 

 

Overview:

 

   This page describes the history of the urbanization in Israel, starting from the caves,  up to the modern cities.

    Examples are given for each of the stages, and are mapped to sites that are featured in BibleWalks.com. At the last section an example is given of a typical Israeli scene, where all the stages are combined together in a small area.

 

The stages:

 

   During the centuries of history of Israel, its population grew in size and improved its dwelling conditions, occupation, and tools. The following stages can be defined:

 

 

    Stage From To Arch.

Period

New

Tools

Population

(in Israel)

Occupation
  1 Natural Caves

 

150,000 BC 8,300BC Paleolithic, Neolithic Stone 1000s Hunter/Gathers
  2 Seasonal sites, farms, villages

 

  8,300BC 4,500BC Neolithic Stone,

Ceramics

 10,000s Hunter/Gathers/Shepards,

Agriculture

  3 Fortified cities (Tells)   4,500BC   300BC Chalcolithic,

Bronze, Israelite, Persian

Copper,

Bronze

10,000s-

100,000s

Agriculture, Trade, Military, Administration
  4 Planned towns      300 BC   19th C AD Hellenistic, Roman,

Byzantine, Arab, Mamluk, Ottoman

Iron 100,000s Agriculture, Trade, Military, Administration,

light manufacturing

  5 Cities, Kibbutz, Moshav, Colony    19/20

C AD

  Modern Israel Machines

 

1,000,000s (1948+) Agriculture, Trade, Military, Industry, Administration, Civil works

 

 

These stages are detailed below, and mapped to the sites that are featured in BibleWalks.com.

 

(1) Natural caves:

 

   The early man used the shelter and protection of the natural caves as their first homes. In Israel there are many such sites, especially in the hills along the shore, on Mount Carmel , in the hills of the Galilee and the sea of Galilee. The excavations in the Carmel region showed that the early man has been in this area over the last 150,000 years.

 

Biblewalks.com sites: Carmel caves (photo seen below), Oren caves.

 

The Tanur cave in the cluster of Carmel caves.

 

(2) Seasonal sites, farms, villages:

 

Due to the increase of the population, and the change of occupation, there was a need to expand the area of dwelling beyond the short distance from the caves. The agriculture started at about 8,300BC - the start of the Neolithic period. Thus, the caves were abandoned, and along the rivers and near the springs the early man built temporary and seasonal housing, and later established farms.

 

Examples in BibleWalks: Nahal Zippori, seen below.

 

Traces of a prehistoric site in Nahal Zippori (8,300-4,500BC)

 

(3) Fortified cities:

 

      This stage marks the real advance in the "civilization". At about 7,500BC Man started to master the art of ceramics which enhanced the level of the tools. Additionally the art of building structures has started as a collection of natural stones, and improved to cutting and fitting stones into larger structures.

 

   During the Neolithic  period the villages started to emerge as larger cities, such as Jericho, one of the first cities. Jericho was established as a fortified city at about 7,000BC.  During the Calcholitic period (5th C BC ) this pattern spread in the whole region, and new cultures emerged in Mesopotamia, Egypt and Syria/Israel. The major early cities were in Israel were Jericho, Megiddo , Beer-Sheba, Yarmuk.

 

   The cities grew bigger and increased to dozens of fortified cities in different sizes during the Bronze age (starting at 3150BC). These sites, now Tells (mound), were protected by high defensive walls, gates, and were usually located on the ancient trade roads. The stronger cities conquered nearby cities, and later other countries, and eventually emerged as empires.

 

Examples in BibleWalks: Megiddo, Hazor, and more (see: history of the Tell).

 

View towards the east. Notice the layers in the Tell.

 

(4) Planned towns:

 

   In the 3rd C BC, at the beginning of the Hellenistic period, the Tells were abandoned and new modern larger cities were established. These cities had planned designs, installed water systems for larger populations, and grew in size to accommodate the increasing population.  The number of cities and villages sites grew to hundreds in the Roman period in the Galilee area alone.

 

Examples in BibleWalks.com: Capernaum (seen below). See all sites in the overview page.

 

Capernaum village and the Synagogue

 

 

 

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Examples of mixed stages:

 

In almost all the sites, especially the Tells, or within a small distance of them, most of the stages of urbanization have mixed together. For example, consider the area of the north-west corner of Sea Of Galilee, which is shown in the photo below:

 

 

 

BibleWalks.com - walk with us through the sites of the Holy Land

 

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