>  historical introduction   >  Israel Short History, Part 3: Roman and Byzantine Periods

After the conquest of Jerusalem by the Romans, they changed its name to AELIA CAPITOLINA, and the name of the province to PROVINCIA SYRIA PALAESTINA. The Holy Land became very pagan, and pagan cities enjoyed massive Roman Imperial support.

But in the 4th century the Roman Empire goes through an amazing process and what began as a Jewish Sect in Judaea, becomes the official religion of the whole Roman empire (!). The Holy Land enjoys much development. Its population grows, and sites related to Jesus and the New Testament attract many Christian pilgrims from all over the ancient world.

During that period, Judaism gradually recovers from the trauma of the destruction of its temple. Its Rabbis re-establish thSanhedrin; the focus shifts to the GalileeSynagogues replace the temple; and prayers replace sacrifices. The Mishna and the Gmara is formed in that time. In the 7th century CE a new force rises. From the sands of Saudi Arabia the armies of Islam spread through the eastern Mediterranean, and in 638 CE Jerusalem is conquered. In general the land goes into economical decline, and many sites will be either destroyed or abandoned.

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