Palestine: Crossroads of the World

Updated on March 25, 2020
ata1515 profile image

ata1515 is a student of history, focusing on the modern, medieval, and ancient histories of Europe.

British Mandate of Palestine
British Mandate of Palestine

Palestine, Ancient and New

Across the face of the Earth, few places have felt the touch of foreign boots as Palestine has. As a geographical entity Palestine sits at the center of Eurasian conflict from the time of the Pharoahs until the Great War of the twentieth century.

History is rife with examples of people, armies and borders moving across Palestine. These movements have created the unique cultures that exist in the Levant to this day, even as the people of the region are cyclically replenished.

To understand the conflicts of history we must define the meaning of the words we use to understand it. Palestine is not a state, nor is it a people. It is a region with many names: the Levant, Palestine, and Syrio-Palestine to name a few. This region encompasses the area between the Taurus Mountains in the north to the Arabian Desert in the south, and from the Sinai Peninsula in the west to Mesopotamia in the east.

From the earliest Jewish settlements to the time of the Roman Empire, Palestine was a hotbed of activity. Jews, Egyptians, Hittites, Persians and Greeks all tread on the soil of Palestine. From Rome until the rise of the Ottoman Empire the riches of the Levant filled the coffers of foreign powers, each of whom left their unique mark on the region.

Palestine during the early Roman Empire
Palestine during the early Roman Empire

The Edge of Empires

Palestine may have been the crossroads of the ancient world, but it was rarely the center of attention. Empires rose and fell around the Mediterranean world, but the Levant was, for a long time, a piece in the games of other players.

Egypt was the first great power to truly exercise control over Palestine, but largely as a buffer against the Hittites and threats from Asia. Alexander the Great spent a good deal of time pacifying the region as a means of creating supply lines to his wars in Egypt and Persia.

When Alexander died it fell to the diodochi to rule the Greek speaking world, and they fought fiercely over Palestine. The battles between East and West during the wars of succession established a rich vibrant culture that lasted until the Crusades. Even as war loomed, Palestine became the backbone of the Seleucid Empire, and the ruling seat of its realm.

The Mithradatic Wars saw Palestine firmly aligned with Western Civilization for several hundred years. Barring small periods of time when the region was invaded by others, Palestine was to be ruled by Rome until the Arab invasions.

Palestine circa 1915
Palestine circa 1915

Decline and Intervention

Palestine was the birthplace of Judaism and Christianity, but also a holy site for Islam. When the Arab powers invaded Palestine and unseated Rome, Palestine began to decline.

As the power centers moved to Syria, Egypt and Baghdad the battlegrounds of the Middle East began to shift. A brief resurgence of conflict occurred during the Crusades, but the religious violence resulted in the region being depopulated and impoverished.

The rise of the Ottoman Empire signaled the end of Palestines woes, and importance. Once the Ottomans fully incorporated the region and the surrounding empires, the east-west war shifted to the Balkans and to modern day Iran.

It would take the World War of the twentieth century to bring Palestine back to the forefront of world politics. When the allied powers invaded and occupied the Middle East, Palestine was able to differentiate from the rest of the Turkish-Arab world, and the waves of Jewish immigration rapidly changed the face of the entire region.

Further Reading

Waterfield, Robin. Dividing the Spoils: The War for Alexander the Great's Empire,

Mayor, Adrienne. The Poison King: The Life and Legend of Mithridates, Rome’s Deadliest Enemy.

“Tackling Heterogeneity: Critique of the Achaemenid Policy of Assimilation." Singh, Abhay Kumar. Proceedings of the Indian History Congress, vol. 65, 2004, pp. 1009–1024.,


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)