With the terrific destruction in Gaza through the last three wars, it seems important and appropriate to remember Gaza, as it was before the zionist Jews came, before they destroyed this ancient and beautiful place.
The city, which has a population of approximately 400.000, has been inhabited since 3000 BC and is frequently termed “Gaza City” in order to distinguish it from the larger Gaza Strip.
Gaza itself is possibly one of the world’s oldest living cities. Placed on the Salah-al-Din Road, it formed a cross roads between North Africa, Asia and the Levant. That position made it vitally significant for trade, culture and war, and in its time Gaza has played host to the Egyptians, Greeks, Romans, Persians and Saracens who all left their mark.
Gaza and the Surrounding area were centres of trade and culture during antiquity-but much of the evidence of that past is under threat. Tel Es-sakan is the only early Bronze Age site found to date – it is a 12-hectare site showing signs of continuous inhabitation from 3.300-2.200 BC. Tel Es-Sakan contains the oldest rampart ever discovered in the Middle East. But its exposed mud bricks have suffered from the effects of rain and there are now only remnants of the site. Anthedon was once a major Hellenistic port; archaeologists rediscovered this port in the 1990’s on the site of the beach refugee camp. Anthedon has revealed tantalizing evidence of Gaza’s past as a cultured centre of trade, with traces of warehouses and mud brick houses with frescoed plaster walls. Of the later eras, Tel Rafah on the Egyptian border has Roman remains while St Hilarion represents the Christian era.
The city was occupied by Egypt around the 15th century BC. Philistines settled the area several hundred years later, and Gaza became one of their chief cities.
This gallery shows how beautiful Gaza was, before all the destruction.