The Making of a City

The environment of the Middle East, including Israel, is harsh and mostly unsuitable for settlement. For a location to be habitable, three conditions were needed:

1. Fresh Water - Although rainfall is plentiful in some regions of Israel, most rain falls during the winter. Many ancient communities stored rainwater in cisterns. If a season received below-average rainfall, cisterns dried up and people abandoned their city. And if an enemy laid siege to a city, only the cisterns inside the city walls were available. Often the besieged city ran out of water and the city fell. Jerusalem was built next to the spring of Gihon. Megiddo, Hazor, and Gezer had tunnels dug through bedrock in order to reach fresh water.

2. Profitable Occupation- People needed the opportunity to either grow a consistent food supply or to buy food. Occupations varied from region to region:- Olive trees flourished in Judea and Galilee.- Wheat grew in the valleys of Judea and Jezreel.- Shepherds raised sheep and goats in the wilderness.- Korazin and Ekron had large olive-oil processing facilities.- Jerusalem was famous for its purple dye.- Cities along the Via Maris often provided supplies to travelers.

3. A Defensible Location- The political climate in the ancient Middle East was volatile, so cities were typically built on hills ringing fertile valleys so inhabitants could defend themselves.