Archaeological and Biblical Timeline

Click on each age or time period on the timeline below to learn more. Material discussed has been taken from the following sources:  
Ahlstrom, G. The History of Ancient Palestine, ed. Diana Edelman, 1993: Sheffield Academic Press

Kemp, B. Ancient Egypt: Anatomy of a Civilization, 1991: Routledge

Levy, T. (ed.) The Archaeology of Society in the Holy Land, 1995: Facts on File Publishing Company

Mazar, A. Archaeology of the Land of the Bible 10,000-586 B.C.E. , 1992: Doubleday

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Note: The terms BCE (Before Common Era) and CE (Common Era) are scholarly terms denoting the periods covered by the religious terms           BC and AD respectively.  

Early Bronze Age 3100-2000 BCE

EBI 3100-2900 BCE | EBII 2900-2700 BCE | EBIII 2700-2400 BCE | EBIV2400-2000 BCE
EBI-II Transition is often associated with the first "Urban Revolution' in Canaan. There is an obvious shift from open/unwalled settlements of a non-urban society to a hierarchy of fortified settlements. Interactions between Egyptian pre-dynastic or Naqada culture and Early Old Kingdom dynasts existed, particularly within the region of Southern Canaan, as well as an increased presence of northern cultures, originating in Mesopotamia. In EB II we see a rapid increase in the development of urbanized cities that were primarily reliant upon agricultural production. For a yet unexplained reason, some people were leaving their previous nomadic/pastoral lifestyles to take up permanent settlement within these urban centers. The implementation of this new system, whether it be because of agricultural advancement, trade or both, brought about the organization of city-states, the concept of government, and writing. Conflict then erupted amongst these city-states, resulting in the organization of defenses. As a result of the vast geographic variances of the Syro-Palestinian region, the formation of global governmental systems like those found in Mesopotamia and Egypt did not occur. The termination of EB III is most often associated with an invasion into southern Syria and Palestine by the so-called 'Amorites'. The 'Amorites' have been identified as a nomadic group that migrated southward from Mesopotamia, reaching all the way into Egypt. Current academic circles question the existence of this group or their supposed usurping migration into the area of Palestine. What can be said is that a noticeable shift occurred in population density throughout the region, the reason for this shift is still undetermined. 
HIGHLIGHTS: Construction of the Giza Pyramids by 4th Dynasty Pharaohs in Egypt (c. 2614-2494 BCE). Also of note are the kingdoms of Urartu and Sumer in the region of the Euphrates and Tigris Rivers of Mesopotamia (modern-day Iraq). First samples of writing in Sumer (c. 3100 BCE) and shortly thereafter in Egypt. 
Middle Bronze Age 2000-1550 BCE

MB I 2000-1800 BCE | MB II 1800-1650 BCE | MB III 1650-1550 BCE
MBI cultures saw a re-growth from the previously destroyed EB III culture and the transitional/intermediate period of EB IV. There is no set explanation as to this resurgence, though it has been attributed to (though not limited to) improvements in climate, increase in trade, well-developed industries like copper manufacture and pottery, or a combination of all. In the south, Egypt, also having just come out of their First Intermediary Period (c. 2180-2133 BCE) saw a return to stability with the establishment of their Middle Kingdom. Often noted as the pinnacle of Ancient Egyptian culture, the wealth and stability of this empire inevitably trickled towards Canaan. Because of heightened trade relations between 12th Dynasty Egypt and the powerful Mesopotamian Empire of Ur a rise in occupation of modern-day Israel's coastal areas occurred with fortified cities being constructed along overland trade routes. A standard trend of re-occupation of EB sites by MB I cultures has been noted, though with a slight difference. Other than the occasional fort, the settlement pattern of MB I is identified as urban centers flanked by satellite villages. The actual importance of the Syro-Palestinian region to the more prominent trading empires range from that of primary military and economic importance (i.e. immediate producers of trade commodities and strategic military location) to those of secondary importance (i.e. Syro-Palestine is simply the "transit country" who's only real value resided in some agricultural or husbandry products). 

The transition from MB II to MB III corresponds to the Second Intermediary Period in Egyptian history (c. 1670-1550 BCE). During this time we see the appearance of the vague "Hyksos" rulers on the Egyptian throne of Lower Egypt (the Nile Delta region). As a result of insufficient textual/historical documents to help shed light on this elusive period, many possible hypotheses have been proposed to explain who the Hyksos were, where they originated from, how they managed to acquire control of the Egyptian throne and the extent of their contacts with (control of?) the Syro-Palestinian region. The term Hyksos comes to us from the Greek translation of an Egyptian term referring to 'Rulers of Foreign Lands'. Such a phrase does not aid in the determination of the origins of these rulers or their associated culture, but it is generally agreed that they came from the East. Due to recent archaeological discoveries at Tel el-Dab'ah in the northeastern Nile Delta region, the capital of the Hyksos Dynasties (15-16th Dynasties) Avaris has been identified. The 'Hyksos City' known as Sharuhen is known to have existed somewhere in Syro-Palestine, though its exact location is still debated. Of the possible sites, the most likely to be identified as Sharuhen are Tel el-Ajjul and Tel el-Far'ah (S). The termination of the MB III culture is most commonly associated with a series of military campaigns against the Hyksos beginning with Ahmose, the first pharaoh of the 18th Dynasty, which inevitably saw the downfall of the Hyksos and the re-establishment of an Egyptian throne. Later infiltrating campaigns by Tuthmose III into the land of Syro-Palestine are often associated with the final chapter of this period. 

HIGHLIGHTS: Egyptian Middle Kingdom, re-urbanization of Syro-Palestinian region. Possibly associated with the entrance of the Biblical character Abraham from Mesopotamia to the land of Canaan. The occupation of the Egyptian throne by the Hyksos and their associated cultural influence on southern Syro-Palestine. First period of occupation established at Tel el-Far'ah (S).
Late Bronze Age 1550/1500-1200 BCE

LBI 1550-1400 BCE | LBIIA 1400-1300 BCE | LBIIB 1300-1200 BCE
Throughout the LB settlement patterns hint at the partial continuation of urban lifestyle, though on a different level than that exhibited during the peak urbanization period of MB II-III. Many of the large-scale urban centers of the previous period continued, albeit much smaller in size and with less control over surrounding rural areas. A perplexing dichotomy surrounds this brief period of time, due to conflicting evidence regarding the material culture. The period following the devastating campaigns by the Egyptian pharaohs of the New Kingdom saw a decline in urban centers and a return to nomadic/pastoral lifestyles. In contrast to this decline, archaeological discoveries have shown regions with elaborate feats in architecture (palaces, patrician houses or 'Governor's Residencies', & temples) and the extensive presence of luxury items (Cypriotic/Mycenaean pottery, ivories, & jewelry). It has been proposed that after the sieges on the land by early New Kingdom pharaohs toward the end of the MB III, particularly Tuthmose III, the Syro-Palestine area found itself to be under Egyptian occupation and control. Areas that had been of importance to the Egyptians continued to prosper in part because of the constant shuffle of trade products between the north and south. The possible imposition of tribute on the region by the Egyptians, or possibly a recession in areas outside the coastal trade-routes, could have caused the decline or even abandonment of some urban centers, while increasing others. (For discussion see: Levy (ed.) 1995, The Archaeology of Society in the Holy Land, pp. 324-326). 
HIGHLIGHTS: In Egypt, this period saw the rule of such well-known pharaohs as Amenhotep IV (Akhenaten), Tutankhamun, & Ramses II. Some have associated the Moses story and the plagues as having occurred under Ramses II, though this is highly speculative and has no validity or bearing.
Iron Age 1200-539 BCE

Iron I 1200-1000 BCE | Iron II 1000-900 BCE | Iron IIB 900-800 BCE | Iron IIC 800-539 BCE
Overall, the IA is seen as a period of increase with regard to the settlement pattern. A distinction can be drawn between the settlement patterns of northern Syro-Palestine (Samaria), southern hill country (Shechem, Jerusalem & Hebron) and the coastal plains (as occupied by the Philistines & Canaanites). More dense occupation occurred in the region around Samaria than in the south where occupants opted for a more pastoral lifestyle. IA I saw major fluctuations within the realm of powerful empires both in the north where we have the complete disappearance of the Hittite Empire, as well as in the south (Egypt). This coupled with ecologically hard-times (famine & plagues) caused peoples from all over the Eastern Mediterranean to be on the move. The might exercised by the 18th and 19th Dynasties seemed to dwindle after the death of Merneptah, son of Ramses II, and as a result the control Egypt enjoyed over the Syro-Palestinian region during previous years was disrupted. The discovery of the Merneptah Stele brought to light the earliest mention of the entity of "Israel". What exactly constitutes this entity is still disputed, though it is probable that this refers to a geographical region, perhaps the central hill country of modern-day Israel, and the people who inhabited it. Other groups were also on the move like the Aramaeans (nomads from Syria) and the Sea Peoples (of questionable & disputed origin, though frequently identified with the Aegean). Groups such as these intermingled with known 'settled' populations of the area like the Phoenicians (in modern day Lebanon) and Philistines (though they are often associated as a tribe within the 'Sea Peoples' phenomenon) often causing these local populaces to migrate themselves.

IA IIA is often seen as the time of Samuel, Saul, the Judges, and the beginning of the 'United Monarchy' period under the best known 'Israelite king' David and his son Solomon. Under their rule, the northern regions of Syro-Palestine (known as "Ephraim" or Israel) were harshly treated and never truly incorporated with the southern regions of Judah. With the death of Solomon, a separation occurred resulting in a strict territorial division between the northern tribes of Israel and the southern kingdom of Judah, thereby beginning the era of the divided monarchy in IA IIB. Constant conflict occurred between these two kingdoms until the appearance of the Assyrian Empire during the early eighth century, which sought to conquer most of the Eastern Mediterranean. A brief alliance between Israel, Judah and some of the coastal areas occurred to deter the campaign of Assyrians, though soon after internal conflict again arose. Eventually Assyria was successful in conquering the Northern Kingdom and forcing the Southern Kingdom into submission and continued to dominate this region up until the seventh century BCE. Under the control of a weakening Assyrian Empire, the Judean king Josiah (c. 639-609 BCE) began rebuilding the south, during which he allegedly uncovered the biblical book of Deuteronomy (621 BCE) and thereby began his religious reform of the cult in Jerusalem. Then with the decline of the Assyrians came a new threat from the east, the Babylonians. The attempted revolt of Josiah's son Jehoiakim in 600 BCE against the Babylonians resulted in the destruction of Judah and began the forced exile of its elite to Babylon; thus beginning the period of the Babylonian Exile. To end the IA IIC, another shift in political domination occurred. From 585 BCE on the Persian king Cyrus successfully revolted against his grandfather and oppressor, withstood joint efforts against him by the Egyptians and the Lydians (of coastal Anatolia), and turned his forces against the mighty Babylonian Empire. In 539 BCE Cyrus II entered Babylon, thus ending the period of the Babylonian exile and ushering in a new period of prosperity and reconstruction within the region of the Eastern Mediterranean under the Persians. 

HIGHLIGHTS: Samuel and Saul, the United Monarchy under David and Solomon, the Divided Monarchy, formation of the concept of 'Israel', Assyrian and Babylonian Empires, Josiah and his reforms- the 'discovery' of the book of Deuteronomy, and the Babylonian Exile.
Persian Period (a.k.a ACHAEMENIDS) 539-332 BCE

Beginning after the successful liberation and conquering campaign of the Eastern Mediterranean by the Persian king Cyrus II, this period marks the time when the once powerful Babylonians were destroyed and a relative period of peace and prosperity came over the area. As a gesture for peace and stability, Cyrus II permitted the return of all political exiles and their gods to their homelands, among them the Judeans from the central/southern hill country of Syro-Palestine. Under his control, we see the beginning division of the Eastern Mediterranean into satrapies or provinces. With the death of Cyrus II in 530 BCE, came his son Cambyses who led a successful military campaign, in alliance with the Greek mercenaries, against the Egyptians. With Egypt now under Persian control, Cambyses set off for home, during which he received word of internal strife and rebellion. Cambyses never reached his destination for he met his death under questionable circumstances in 522 BCE, bringing Darius I to the throne. It appears that further turmoil plagued the Persian Empire under Darius I. This is evident in the mention of uprisings in most of the Persian Empire: the east, south and northwest, though there is no mention of rebellious activity in Syro-Palestine. Under Darius I, the empire reached its peak. "Its territory extended from the Danube in the Balkans to the Indus River in the east, from Egypt and Libya in the south to the Aral Sea and the Jaxartes River in the northeast" (Ahlström, G., 1993 The History of Ancient Palestine, p. 853). After Darius II and for successive generations, several Persian kings assumed control over the vast empire, all set on one goal, the conquering of their greatest rivals, the Greeks. Finally, around 334 BCE Alexander of Macedonia, better known as 'Alexander the Great', crossed the Hellespont to begin his conquest of the Eastern Mediterranean. The Persians could not withstand the mightiest and most successful military leader known in this region and in 332 BCE Alexander had successfully run Darius III from Babylon, resulting in the capture of the city. Alexander's success was finalized with the death of Darius III at the hands of his own officials in 330 BCE. 
HIGHLIGHTS: Cyrus II and the following line of Persian rulers, the return of Exiled Judeans to their homeland from Babylon, Alexander the Great and his successful conquest of the Persian Empire.
Hellenistic Period 332-63 BCE

Early Hellenistic 332-198 BCE | Late Hellenistic 198-63 BCE
The conquests of the Macedonian military leader Alexander beginning in 334 BCE with the Battle of Issus, brought an end to Persian control of the Eastern Mediterranean and began a new period, the Early Hellenistic. By 331 BCE Alexander successfully conquered the Eastern Mediterranean by defeating the Egyptians and founding his new capital city on the coastal Delta, Alexandria. Alexander, for reasons of either genuine desire or political motivation, sought to unify the region under the coat of the idealized Hellenistic culture. In an effort to solidify this unification, he directed many of his Greek military generals to take wives from the various areas now under their dominion. He, himself, inter-married with a Persian princess and was often chastised for his apparent preference of eastern culture and lifestyle. Due to Alexander's unnaturally early death in 323 BCE, the grand empire he had succeeded in bringing under Hellenistic control was divided between two of his top generals, Seleucid (for the northern regions, i.e. Anatolia) and Ptolemais (for southern regions, i.e. Egypt). Palestine, first under Ptolemaic rule, enjoyed extensive Hellenization. The transition from the Early to Late Hellenistic period saw constant competition between the two smaller empires, eventually leading to the defeat of the Ptolemies in 198 BCE by the Seleucid ruler Antiochus III, after which time 'Palestine' found itself under Seleucid control.

Starting in 170 BCE Antiochus IV Epiphany began one of two military campaigns into Egypt. On his return in 169 BCE, he sacked and defiled the Jerusalem temple. After his second campaign into Egypt, a period of extensive persecution began in 167 BCE with massacres in Jerusalem, the abolishment of the Jewish cult, and the establishment of the cult of Jupiter within the Jerusalem temple. These events led to the initially unsuccessful revolt in 166 BCE, led by Mattathias and commonly known as the Maccabean Revolt or First Jewish Revolt. In 164 BCE, relative peace covered the kingdom thus permitting the purification of the Jewish temple. Soon after in 160 BCE, an alliance was drawn between Seleucid Antiochus V and the Romans. This alliance was renewed again in 139 BCE and because of intermittent Roman activity in the orient, the stage was set for the entrance of Roman general Pompée between 66-62 BCE. In 64 BCE Syria was proclaimed a Roman province and soon thereafter in 63 BCE 'Palestine' also became incorporated when Pompée took Jerusalem. 

HIGHLIGHTS: Alexander the Great, Unification of Eastern Mediterranean under Hellenistic Culture, Seleucids and Ptolemies, Desecration of Jerusalem Temple, First Jewish (a.k.a. Maccabean) Revolt, Restoration of Jerusalem Temple, Entrance of Rome.
Roman Period 63 BCE- 324 CE

Early Roman 63 BCE-135 CE | Late Roman 135-324 CE
The Early Roman Period began with the entrance of Pompée into the Orient. He succeeded to incorporate Syria as a Roman province in 64 BCE and that following year in 63 BCE, Pompée took Jerusalem thereby incorporating 'Palestine' as a Roman province as well. Cleopatra VII came to the throne of Egypt in 51 BCE and continued to reign until her suicide by cobra bite in 30 BCE. In 44 BCE the Roman emperor Ceasar was assassinated, bringing Antoine to power. In 41 BCE Antione appoints Herod ("the Great") as Tetrarch of 'Palestine', whose official span of rule ranged between 37 BCE - 4 CE. It is under the rule of Herod that we see monumental building efforts throughout the region and the supposed birth and life of Jesus of Nazareth. In the period following Herod's death we see the entrance and departure of many Roman governors in the region of 'Palestine'. John the Baptist and his prophesying about the coming messiah and the beginning of Jesus' ministry are believed to have occurred during 27 BCE. Pontius Pilate enters the scene in 26 BCE and continues to govern the region up till 36 CE. It is said that Jesus was condemned by Pontius Pilate sometime during 29 CE and later died by crucifixion in 30 CE. 

The following years saw multiple transitions between various Roman Emperors among whom can be mentioned Caligula (37-41 CE), Claude (41-54 CE), and Nero (54-68 CE). A partial return to the grandeur last witnessed during the rule of Herod the Great was felt throughout the region of 'Palestine' and it is during the period between 45-58 CE, the 1st through 3rd missions of Paul. In 70 CE the Jerusalem temple is again destroyed by the Romans and the later seige and destruction of Masada, ending yet another revolt. The epoch of the Roman Empire came between 114 - 116 CE with the annexation of the Roman provinces of Armenia, Assyria and Mesopotamia. From 117-138 we have the reign of Emperor Hadrian under whose rule we have the Bar-Kochba (a.k.a. Second Jewish) Revolt between 132-135 CE. The Roman response to this revolt was swift and in 135 CE, the Jerusalem temple was lost again and initiated as a sanctuary of tribute to both Zeus and Hadrian. From this point on the province of Judea becomes the province of 'Syria-Palestine'. The Late Roman period, from 135-324 CE was highlighted by many Roman Emperors. It is during this period we see the development of divisions within Judaism, slowly developing toward the eventual schism of "Christ sympathizers" or Judeo-Christians into what later became recognized as Christianity. It seems that throughout this period, either Jews or Judeo-Christians were repeatedly persecuted by the Romans or by one another. Then in 324, Constantine came into power and gave Christianity the upper hand by his ordaining it as the official religion of the empire. Thus beginning the Byzantine Period.

HIGHLIGHTS: Alexander the Great, Unification of Eastern Mediterranean under Hellenistic Culture, Seleucids and Ptolemies, Desecration of Jerusalem Temple, First Jewish (a.k.a. Maccabean) Revolt, Restoration of Jerusalem Temple, Entrance of Rome.
Byzantine Period 325-640 CE

Early Byzantine 325-640 CE | Late Byzantine 491-640 CE
To Be Completed...
Early Islamic Period 640-1174 CE

The Islamic Period began officially with the conquest of Palestine by the Ummayad dynasty in 636 CE. To Be Completed...
Crusader Period 1099-1291 CE

On July 15, 1099 Jerusalem fell to the Crusaders after a five week siege and the victors proceeded to massacre the city's Muslims and Jews. After 460 years of Muslim rule the Crusaders restored Jerusalem to Christian hands, and declared the city the capital of the Kingdom of Jerusalem.
(source: To Be Completed...
Late Islamic Period 1174-1917 CE

The Islamic Period began officially with the conquest of Palestine by the Ummayad dynasty in 636 CE. To Be Completed...
British Mandate 1917-1948 CE

It was only after World War I, at the Paris Peace Conference, that the name "Palestine" was applied to a clearly defined piece of territory - the area which today comprises Israel and Jordan. It was agreed that "Palestine" was to become a League of Nations Mandate, entrusted to Great Britain.

Under the terms of the Mandate, Britain's principal obligation was to facilitate the implementation of the Balfour Declaration of November 2, 1917, which pledged "the establishment of a national home for the Jewish people." No territorial restrictions whatsoever - neither east nor west of the Jordan River were placed on the Jewish National Home. In fact, the Mandate stipulated that Britain was to "facilitate Jewish immigration under suitable conditions and shall encourage close settlement by Jews on the land." 

State of Israel - Present

It Israel gained its independence May 14, 1948 from the League of Nations mandate under British administration.