Friday, May 27, 2016

Village , Town and City .Ancient Jerusalem in Zion

Ancient Jerusalem: The Village, the Town, the City

It’s made such an enormous impact on Western civilization that it’s hard to fathom how small its population really was—small compared even to the centers of contemporaneous empires to the east and to the west. Of course, I’m talking about Jerusalem.
Today many of us live in cities of millions. Very few of us live in towns of only thousands, but hardly any of us live in a village as small as King David’s capital.
A new study of Jerusalem’s population in various periods has recently been published by one of Israel’s leading Jerusalem archaeologists,Hillel Geva of Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and the Israel Exploration Society. Geva bases his estimates on “archaeological findings, rather than vague textual sources.” The result is what he calls a “minimalist view.”1 But whether you accept Geva’s population estimates or those of various other scholars he cites, to the modern observer the ancient city of Jerusalem can only be described as “tiny”—with population estimates at thousands and tens of thousands during many periods of the city’s history. (In comparison, Rome in the century before Jesus lived is estimated to have had a population of 400,000 tax-paying males—so the entire population must have been about a million.)
The first period that Geva considers in his study is from the 18th–11th centuries B.C.E. (Middle Bronze Age II to Iron Age I, in archaeological terms), the period before the arrival of the Israelites. Jerusalem was then confined to the small spur south of the Temple Mountknown today as the City of David. As Geva reminds us, even then Jerusalem “was the center of an important territorial entity.” From this period, the area includes a massive fortification system that has recently been excavated. Overall, however, the area comprises only about 11–12 acres. Geva estimates the population of the city during this period at between 500 and 700 “at most.” (Previously other prominent scholars had estimated Jerusalem’s population in this period as 880–1,100, 1,000, 2,500, 3,000; still this is hardly what we would consider a metropolis.)
The shaded area reflects the current walled Old City of Jerusalem.
The next period Geva considers is the period of the United Monarchy, the time of King David and King Solomon and a couple centuries thereafter (1000 B.C.E. down to about the eighth century B.C.E.). In David’s time, the borders of the city did not change from the previous period. However, King Solomon expanded the confines of the city northward to include the Temple Mount. This increased the size of the city to about 40 acres, but the increase in population was not proportionate since much of this expansion was taken up with the Temple and royal buildings. “It is likely that Jerusalem attracted new inhabitants of different social classes,” Geva tells us. “Some of these people came to reside in the city as a consequence of their official and religious capacities, while others came to seek a livelihood in its developing economy.” Geva estimates the population of the city at this time at about 2,000. (Previously, other scholars had estimated the number of people living in the city at this time as 2,000, 2,500 or 4,500–5,000.)
In the mid-eighth century B.C.E., the area usually referred to as the Western Hill was added to the city of Jerusalem. This area is well documented archaeologically. With this addition, more than a hundred acres were added to the city, and the population of the city increased proportionately. According to some scholars, this increase may have been at least in part due to the influx of refugees from the north after the Assyrian conquest of the northern kingdom of Israel in 721 B.C.E.

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