Biblical Archaeology Review 33:1, January/February 2007

ReViews: Continuing Conflicts

“... by far the most famous city of the ancient Orient.”

—Pliny the Elder

Natural History V:14

Open a newspaper in any city of the world on any day of the week and you are likely to be reminded that modern Jerusalem is a city surrounded by conflict. Read this book and you may (or, then again, may not) be surprised to learn that conflict has been a way of life in the City of Peace for more than 3,000 years! By Eric Cline’s count,

[t]here have been at least 118 separate conflicts in and for Jerusalem during the past four millennia—conflicts that ranged from local religious struggles to strategic military campaigns and that embraced everything in between. Jerusalem has been destroyed completely at least twice, besieged twenty-three times, attacked an additional fifty-two times, and captured and recaptured forty-four times. It has been the scene of twenty revolts and innumerable riots, has had at least five separate periods of violent terrorist attacks during the past century, and has only changed hands completely peacefully twice in the past four thousand years.

The book opens with a table that lists the dates, the combatants and the action or result for each of these 118 conflicts. The first conflict dates to “about 1350 B.C.E.” between Abdi-Heba, then the ruler of Jerusalem, and the Canaanites/Habiru in an action called a possible attack; the last dates to the year 2000 C.E. between the Palestinians and Israelis in an action labeled “terrorist attacks.”

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