|Holy Land map features:
• Geographical details including mountains, rivers, lakes, lava, and areas below sea level
• Sites are noted by historical period and the religions associated with that site
• Unusual sites not found on other maps including Israeli settlements, refugee camps, and cedar groves
• Capitals, cities, and towns
• Highways, main roads, secondary roads, unpaved roads or tracks, railroads, canals, and scheduled air service
Touring by donkey in the fourth century, St. Jerome described the lure of a land that has long drawn believers like a spiritual compass to the source of their religion: “That man will get a clearer grasp of Holy Scripture who has gazed at Judaea.” Christian zeal during the Middle Ages gave rise not only to a prosperous pilgrimage industrycomplete with package toursbut also to the armed mission of the Crusades.
A critical link between East and West, the Holy Land has endurned an eternity of conflict. Even today rival claims among Jews, Christians, and Muslims leave this venerated region stricken with sorrow and rage.
Selected major sites with accessible buildings or ruins carry symbols representing the imprint of any of five historical periods and three religions.
STONE AND BRONZE AGES (CA 500,000 TO 1200 B.C.)
The layering of settlements at tells, or mounds, marks ancient sites in the Holy Land dating back to the Stone Age. By 3,000 B.C. walled towns were common; 15 centuries later, Canaanite city-states were controlled by Egypt's pharaohs.
ISRAELITE AND PERSIAN PERIODS (CA1200 TO 332 B.C.)
Seminomadic Israelite tribes united as a monarchy to challenge local Philistines and Canaanites. Solomon's grandiose kingdom split and later fell to Assyrians and Babylonians. Exiled Israelites returned under Persian rule.
HELLENISTIC AND ROMAN PERIODS (332 B.C. TO A.D. 324)
Alexander's military successors carved up the lands he took from Persia. Jews struggled for independence. Roman conquerors at times imposed their own worship at the sites sacred to Judaism and budding Christianity.
BYZANTINE PERIOD (A.D. 324 TO 640)
Constantine's conversion made Christianity secure for three centuries under the Byzantine Empire, with Jerusalem the spiritual center. Churches and monasteries proliferated, and the surge of pilgrims boosted development.
ISLAMIC PERIOD (A.D 640 TO 1917)
Muslim Arabs swept the region, stamping it with their new faith. the 200-year crusader campaign to retake and hold the holy place left a legacy of castles and abbeysmany leveled by Egypt's Mamluks, the predecessors of the Ottoman Turks.
Bereft of the their Temple in Jerusalemfirst built by Solomon as a permanent shrine for the Ark of the CovenantJews created synagogues as centers of community worship. After A.D. 70 these houses of prayer and study came to replace the Temple cult with its sacrificial rites.
Persecution drove early Christian worship undergroundto caves and private homesbut the Byzantine era brought much church building, including mosaic-filled basilicas that accommodated the hordes of pilgrims. Crusaders fused styles of East and West in the rebuilt Church of the Holy Sepulchre and a line of mountaintop fortresses.
The mosque, or "place of prostration," with its minarets from which to summon the faithful to prayer, is the most visible manifestation of Islamic architecture. Religious prohibition against human images produced highly developed decorative art.