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Old May 17th, 2018, 12:55 PM   #1
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Why has the Holy Land always been such a catashtrophic mess since prehistory


I'll elaborate my question a little bit. We all know that the land between Jordan river and the Mediterranean (and adjacent Levant) has been and is one of the world's most violent regions and is bound to remain so in foreseeable future. The reason is also apparently obvious, it's the ground zero of three Abrahamic faiths and all of them want it for themselves. But is that all?

Jerusalem has alone changed hands around 26 times in the past 3500 years. Nearly half of these happened even before the crusades. Egyptians, Assyrians, Greeks, Persians, Romans, Israelites all have fought one or multiple of the others for this land. Muslims (Seljuks, Fatimids, Ayyubids, Ottomans, Khwarezmids etc) seem to have fought among themselves for this land more than they have fought Christians and Jews. This cannot be the result of religion alone.

My take on the subject is that more than religion, the geographical factor matters. The region is like an enormous highway junction squeezed between Europe, Africa and Asia with wide open frontiers. So any invading force had to pass this way, giving the region an immense strategic value. Plus there is easy access to Mediterranean for maritime trade.

Religion just added another drum of fuel to the fire.

What are your thoughts?

Last edited by HardtackJuniper; May 17th, 2018 at 01:05 PM.
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Old May 17th, 2018, 01:14 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HardtackJuniper View Post
I'll elaborate my question a little bit. We all know that the land between Jordan river and the Mediterranean (and adjacent Levant) has been and is one of the world's most violent regions and is bound to remain so in foreseeable future. The reason is also apparently obvious, it's the ground zero of three Abrahamic faiths and all of them want it for themselves. But is that all?

Jerusalem has alone changed hands around 26 times in the past 3500 years. Nearly half of these happened even before the crusades. Egyptians, Assyrians, Greeks, Persians, Romans, Israelites all have fought one or multiple of the others for this land. Muslims (Seljuks, Fatimids, Ayyubids, Ottomans, Khwarezmids etc) seem to have fought among themselves for this land more than they have fought Christians and Jews. This cannot be the result of religion alone.

My take on the subject is that more than religion, the geographical factor matters. The region is like an enormous highway junction squeezed between Europe, Africa and Asia with wide open frontiers. So any invading force had to pass this way, giving the region an immense strategic value. Plus there is easy access to Mediterranean for maritime trade.

Religion just added another drum of fuel to the fire.

What are your thoughts?
You are probably right. This position at the crossroads may also have substantially helped the spread of ideas from those lands to others.
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Old May 17th, 2018, 02:05 PM   #3
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Conflict came first - too many people, not enough water. Religion is how the various competing factions defined themselves from their enemies.
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Old May 17th, 2018, 02:14 PM   #4
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Everyone wants some of that milk and honey.

"When the LORD your God brings you into the land which you are entering to take possession of it, and clears away many nations before you, the Hittites, the Gir'gashites, the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Per'izzites, the Hivites, and the Jeb'usites, seven nations greater and mightier than yourselves,
2: and when the LORD your God gives them over to you, and you defeat them; then you must utterly destroy them; you shall make no covenant with them, and show no mercy to them."

Deuteronomy chapter 7:verses 1 and 2

Last edited by stevev; May 17th, 2018 at 02:24 PM.
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Old May 17th, 2018, 02:54 PM   #5

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It's part of the fertile crescent.
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Old May 17th, 2018, 04:45 PM   #6

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As some have said,it really has been the center of the world. Other civilizations are old, but it seems that civilization had its roots and much of its development there. Religion, which has been common for most humans throughout history, has contributed - especially because the thee main religions in the area are intertwined, just like the people.
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Old May 17th, 2018, 05:15 PM   #7

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Quote:
Originally Posted by HardtackJuniper View Post
I'll elaborate my question a little bit. We all know that the land between Jordan river and the Mediterranean (and adjacent Levant) has been and is one of the world's most violent regions and is bound to remain so in foreseeable future. The reason is also apparently obvious, it's the ground zero of three Abrahamic faiths and all of them want it for themselves. But is that all?

Jerusalem has alone changed hands around 26 times in the past 3500 years. Nearly half of these happened even before the crusades. Egyptians, Assyrians, Greeks, Persians, Romans, Israelites all have fought one or multiple of the others for this land. Muslims (Seljuks, Fatimids, Ayyubids, Ottomans, Khwarezmids etc) seem to have fought among themselves for this land more than they have fought Christians and Jews. This cannot be the result of religion alone.

My take on the subject is that more than religion, the geographical factor matters. The region is like an enormous highway junction squeezed between Europe, Africa and Asia with wide open frontiers. So any invading force had to pass this way, giving the region an immense strategic value. Plus there is easy access to Mediterranean for maritime trade.

Religion just added another drum of fuel to the fire.

What are your thoughts?
I too think you're on the right track. I would especially note the "geographical factor". It wasn't always just about conquest. It was also often a matter of controlling the area in order to create a buffer between you and the threat from the next empire (e.g. Egyptians vs. Hittites). The Levant was surrounded by a number of powerful states in competition with one another.
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Old May 17th, 2018, 07:39 PM   #8
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It's always amazed me there is so much strife over a desert ridden hellhole like most of the Middle East. And the oddest thing is those people all look alike and probably would get along fine if it wasn't for religious (aka "made up") differences.
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Old May 17th, 2018, 10:47 PM   #9
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OK. We should not get to the idea that the rest of the planet has such a peaceful past. In libraries I often der a book, titled "the kontinent of war"(translated). It is easy to get iy wrong, since this kontinent was No others than Europe.And this booktitle is not completely wrong.
The læst decades of European history seems not to be repræsentative since wars mostly were in lands outside the general Arrangements like what was Yugoslavia, a country outside the blocs. But in the Eastern Meditterranean Region written history startede Early. That mean More recorded violence. When Early European killed each others we More often has to dig to know about prehistorical massacres and wars .
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Old May 18th, 2018, 12:35 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Strontium90 View Post
It's always amazed me there is so much strife over a desert ridden hellhole like most of the Middle East. And the oddest thing is those people all look alike and probably would get along fine if it wasn't for religious (aka "made up") differences.
Well yesterday's bros are today's foes has been a recurring theme in conflicts since time immemorial. People from halfway around the world biting off each others' throats every now and then is a comparatively recent trend. It wasn't even practically possible back in those days. Today an Egyptian and someone from Southern Israel may appear similar to people from other parts of the world but for a Canaanite or an Amorite a Jew coming from Egypt was no less an alien than Master Yoda of Star Wars would be to us.

Secondly, Mediterranean East Coast and Levant are NOT godforsaken deserts. Tigris, Euphrates and Jordan river basins are pretty fertile today, back then these were paradises. It takes one to motivate hunter gatherers to settle down and form a civilization for the first time in history. Negev or Peninsular Arabia you can say are hell's backyards and nobody ever bothered invading these places either.

They didn't go along fine even when there was no Christianity or Islam and Judaism was quite different from today's Rabbinic culture. Bloodbaths were a little less frequent but happened nonetheless.

Last edited by HardtackJuniper; May 18th, 2018 at 01:13 AM.
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