Abstract: Jerusalem Besieged: 4,000 Years of Conflict in the City of Peace


Jerusalem, whose name to some means the ‘City of Peace,’ has been anything but peaceful during the past four millennia.  A new study by the present author indicates that there have been at least 118 separate conflicts in and for this city since 2000 BCE — conflicts which ranged from local religious struggles to strategic military campaigns and which embraced everything in between.  Jerusalem has been destroyed completely at least twice, besieged 23 times, attacked an additional 52 times, captured and recaptured 44 times, been the scene of 20 revolts and innumerable riots, 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 4,000 years.  Many of these conflicts left evidence in the archaeological record and recent discoveries have shed new light on many of these successive struggles, including those involving Egyptians, Canaanites, Israelites, Jebusites, Neo-Assyrians, Neo-Babylonians, Greeks, Romans, Persians, Moslems, and Crusaders.  This study of 4,000 years of conflict in a single city also illustrates how archaeology, politics, and nationalism are frequently linked in the troubled environment of the Middle East today, especially when ancient conflicts and their archaeology are used as propaganda by modern military and political leaders.