Holy Land Timeline
It is understood that many of the dates and/or the events associated with them are contestable. This timeline represents only the opinion of the author, and is subject to revision based on ongoing research and revelations.
c. 7000 BC: Jericho becomes a walled settlement.
c. 2000 BC: Abraham arrives in Canaan.
c. 1850 BC: Abraham binds Isaac on Mount Moriah.
c. 1500 BC: The Jews travel to Egypt.
c. 1260 BC: The Exodus begins.
c. 1200 BC: Joshua marched into Canaan.
c. 1010 BC: David made Jerusalem the capital.
c. 962 BC: Solomon built the first Temple.
c. 930 BC: Israel splits into two kingdoms.
c. 720 BC: The Northern kingdom is conquered by Assyria, and its 10 tribes sent into exile and disbursed.
c. 700 BC: The Siloam Tunnel was built by King Hezekiah in order to keep water from the Gihon Spring inside the city, in preparation for a siege by the Assyrians.
701 BC: The Assyrians conquer much of the southern kingdom. Jerusalem is besieged but survives.
597 BC: Nebuchadnezzar II of Babylon captures the southern kingdom and Jerusalem.
586 BC: Following a rebellion, Nebuchadnezzar destroyed Jerusalem and the First Temple, deporting most of the population to Babylon (present-day Iraq).
539 BC: Cyrus the Great of Persia conquers Babylon and allows the Jews to return from captivity.
c. 516 BC: The Second Temple was completed.
444 BC: Nehemiah rebuilt the city walls of Jerusalem.
332 BC: Alexander the Great conquered the Persian Empire, including all of Palestine.
323 BC: Alexander died, and his kingdom was divided into four parts. Palestine fell under the Ptolemaic Dynasty of Egypt, then under the Seleucid Empire of Syria.
175 BC: King Antiochus IV of Syria bans traditional Jewish practices and desecrates the Temple.
167 BC: Judas Maccabeus leads a successful revolt against the Seleucid Empire, and restores religious freedom to the Jews.
140 BC: Simon Maccabeus, a brother of Judas, establishes the Hasmonean Dynasty.
63 BC: The Romans invaded the land of Palestine, marching into Jerusalem and eventually taking control of the entire country.
37 BC: Rome proclaims Herod as King of Israel, now a Roman client state, ending the Hasmonean Dynasty.
20 BC: Herod begins expanding the Temple Mount and he rebuilds the Temple.
4 BC: Jesus Christ was born in Bethlehem.
1 AD: Herod died, and his kingdom is divided among his sons, Philip, Antipas and Archelaus.
26 AD: Pontius Pilate became the procurator (governor) of the Roman province of Judea.
27 AD: Jesus is baptized by his cousin John the Baptist, and begins His public ministry.
30 AD: Jesus is condemned to death and crucified.
c. 33 AD: Saint Stephen became the first martyr in the Christian church.
c. 34 AD: Paul was converted on his way to Damascus.
41-44 AD: Jerusalem’s “Third Wall” was built by King Agrippa I.
c. 44 AD: The Apostle James was the first Apostle to be martyred.
c. 50 AD: The first recorded council of Christian leaders in Jerusalem was held. It was presided over by James the Just, the brother of Jesus.
c. 58 AD: The Virgin Mary died, and was buried at the base of the Mount of Olives.
c. 45-95 AD: The books of the New Testament are written (although some scholars believe that Revelation was written much earlier than 95 AD).
64 AD: Rome burned during the reign of the emperor Nero.
c. 64-65 AD: Paul the Apostle was beheaded in Rome under Nero.
c. 64-67 AD: The Apostle Peter was crucified upside down in Rome.
66 AD: The great Jewish uprising against the Romans began.
68 AD: The emperor Nero commits suicide at the age of 30.
70 AD: Roman soldiers destroy Jerusalem and the Second Temple under General Titus.
73 AD: Masada near the Dead Sea falls to the Romans.
c. 98-100 AD: The Apostle John died.
130 AD: Emperor Hadrian visits the ruins of Jerusalem and decides to rebuild it as a city dedicated to the god Jupiter, and to rename the city Aelia Capitolina.
132 AD: The Bar-Kochba revolt begins.
135 AD: Hadrian crushes the Bar-Kochba revolt and expels Jews from Jerusalem. He builds a temple to Jupiter on the Temple Mount, and he builds a pagan temple dedicated to the goddess Venus over the site of the Crucifixion and Resurrection. He also builds a grove dedicated to the god Adonis over the Grotto of the Nativity.
c. 160 AD: Melito of Sardis visited Jerusalem and confirmed that the site of Jesus’ burial is in the same location as the Church of the Holy Sepulcher.
301 AD: Armenia became the first nation to establish Christianity its state religion.
312 AD: Emperor Constantine converts from paganism to Christianity.
313 AD: Emperor Constantine signs the edict of Milan, legalizing Christianity.
324 AD: Constantine became sole ruler of the Roman Empire.
325 AD: The first council of Nicaea convened. To be determined at this council were subjects of heresy, scheduling holidays, standards for clergy, and doctrine. At no time was the subject of a Biblical canon discussed. Bishop Macarius of Jerusalem asked Constantine to reclaim the site of crucifixion and resurrection of Christ, and he built a church there.
326-328 AD: Constantine’s mother, Helena, who is in her late 70’s, visits the Holy Land, finds the holy tomb, and orders churches built on sacred sites. They definitely included the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, The Church of the Nativity and the Church of the Ascension. Other church projects are also accredited to her visit, including the Church at the Shepherd’s Field and the Church of Saint George over the cave of the ten lepers.
330 AD: Constantine moved his capital from Rome to Byzantium (renamed Constantinople). It is now called Istanbul.
333 AD: The Pilgrim of Bordeaux arrives in the Holy Land.
337 AD: Constantine dies. His historian, Eusebius publishes Life of Constantine.
339 AD: The Church of the Nativity is completed, although it had been in use as early as 333 AD.
362-365 AD: Emperor Julian "the Apostate" tries to reestablish pagan worship and promises to rebuild Jewish Temple - a project that eventually fails.
386 AD: Saints Jerome and Paula established a monastery in Bethlehem.
383-387 AD: Egeria, a Spanish lady pilgrim, visits the Holy Land, and documents her diverse travels.
392 AD: Emperor Theodosius I outlawed paganism, all but making Christianity the official religion of the Roman Empire.
427 AD: The Church of the Annunciation is completed in Nazareth.
483 AD: Saint Sabbas founded the great monastery of Mar Saba in the Kidron Valley.
c. 484–573 AD: During this time there were a series of Samaritan uprisings in Palestine.
c. 529 AD: The Church of the Nativity is damaged by the Samaritans.
556 AD: The Jews join the Samaritans in burning down the Church of the Nativity.
565 AD: Emperor Justinian rebuilds the Church of the Nativity in its present form. It is still the oldest active church building in the land of Israel.
570 AD: The birth of Muhammad, the founder of Islam.
c. 570 AD: The anonymous pilgrim of Piacenza Italy arrives in the Holy Land.
614 AD: Jerusalem falls to Khosrau III of the Sassanid Empire. The Church of the Holy Sepulcher is burned, and the piece of the True Cross of Jesus and other relics are taken to Persia (modern Iran). Much of the Christian population is massacred, and most of the city of Jerusalem is destroyed. The Church of the Annunciation in Nazareth is destroyed, but the Church of the Nativity is spared.
620 AD: In this year there is a Muslim legend of Muhammad's taking a night journey from Mecca to Jerusalem, and then went up to heaven.
629 AD: Emperor Heraclius I reestablished Byzantine rule in Jerusalem and recovered the True Cross stolen by Persians.
637 AD: Under the Muslim Caliph Umar the Great, Jerusalem is conquered. The Christian Patriarch Sophronius and Umar are reported to have agreed that non-Muslims may freely worship under Islamic rule. The Jews were once again allowed to live and worship in Jerusalem. A small Muslim prayer house built on the destroyed Temple Mount ultimately became the Al-Aqsa Mosque. The final outline of the mosque seen today was constructed in 1033 AD. This Muslim occupation begins a succession of Muslim Caliphates which rule Jerusalem.
c. 680 AD: The French monk Arculf arrived in the Holy Land.
687–692 AD: The Dome of the Rock was built, becoming the world's first great work of Islamic architecture.
705 AD: The Al-Aqsa Mosque is completed.
1009 AD: Sultan al-Hakim from Egypt destroys the Church of the Holy Sepulcher.
1042-1048 AD: The Church of the Holy Sepulcher was restored by Emperor Constantine Monomachus.
1054 AD: There was a Great Schism that split the Christian Church into Eastern (Greek) and Western (Latin) branches. This marks the division between the Catholic and Orthodox faiths. All Christians in the Holy Land come under the jurisdiction of the Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem.
1071 AD: Seljuk Turks captured Jerusalem, persecuting Christians, desecrating churches and barring pilgrims from worshiping there.
1095 AD: At the Council of Clermont Pope Urban II calls for the First Crusade.
1099 AD: The first Crusade captures Jerusalem and establishes Latin kingdom, slaughtering most of the city's Muslim and Jewish inhabitants. The Dome of the Rock became a church called the temple of the Lord, and the Al Aqsa Mosque was called The temple of Solomon. Godfrey of Bouillon becomes the Protector of the Holy Sepulcher.
1100 AD: Baldwin I was proclaimed the first King of Jerusalem.
1104 AD: The Al-Aqsa Mosque became the Royal Palace of the Kingdom of Jerusalem.
1138 AD: Saint Anne’s Church was built by the widow of Baldwin I.
1149 AD: The Crusader Church of the Holy Sepulcher is completed.
1187 AD: Sultan Saladin defeated the Crusaders at the Horns of Hattin above the Sea of Galilee. He then takes Jerusalem.
1193 AD: The Mosque of Omar is built under Saladin outside the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, commemorating Umar the Great's decision to pray not inside, but outside the church, so as not to set a precedent and thereby endanger the Church's status as a Christian site.
Islamic Rule Again
1229 AD: The Franciscans established themselves in Jerusalem near the Fifth Station of the Via Dolorosa.
1244 AD: Jerusalem is sacked by the Khwarezmians. Control passes to the Egyptian Ayyubids and then Mamluks, who rule until 1517.
1263 AD: The Mamluk empire destroys the Crusader church of the Annunciation in Nazareth.
1291 AD: The Crusaders’ last foothold, Acre, falls to Mamluks.
1342 AD: Pope Clement VI formally establishes Franciscan Custody of the Holy Land.
1517 AD: The Ottoman Turks take control of Palestine from the Mamluks.
1517 AD: Martin Luther begins the Protestant Reformation in Europe.
1535–538 AD: Suleiman the Magnificent rebuilds walls around Jerusalem.
1541 AD: The Golden Gate on the eastern wall of the Old City of Jerusalem is permanently sealed.
1555 AD: Father Boniface of Ragusa, the Franciscan Custodian of the Holy Land, repairs the tomb of Christ. This was the first time the actual burial bench of Jesus was exposed since the visit of Saint Helena in 326 AD.
1720 AD: The Church of the Annunciation is rebuilt in Nazareth.
1757 AD: The Status Quo edict is enforced by the Turkish Ottoman empire, requiring all religious communities in both the Holy Sepulcher and the Church of the Nativity to follow specific custodial rules. This empire gives the Greek Orthodox Church major possession of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher.
1808 AD: Fire rages in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. The Tomb of Christ is severely damaged when the dome falls in.
1849 AD: The Christ Church in Jerusalem, the oldest Protestant church in the Middle East, is built just inside the Jaffa Gate in Jerusalem.
1852 AD: The Status Quo is confirmed. The Ottoman empire directs that the current custody of holy places in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher and the Church of the Nativity remain, according to the 1757 edict. The Status Quo is still in effect today.
1883 AD: General Charles Gordon proposes Skull Hill as Calvary and Garden Tomb as the place where Christ was buried.
1884 AD: A mosaic map of the Holy Land is discovered in the floor of a 6th-century church at Madaba, Jordan.
1917 AD: The Ottoman Empire was defeated at the Battle of Jerusalem during the first world war.
1922 AD: The League of Nations approved the British mandate (control) of Palestine.
1947 AD: The United Nations Partition Plan calls for a Jewish state and an Arab state in Palestine, with Greater Jerusalem (including Bethlehem) under international control. Most Jewish groups accepted the plan, but the Arabs rejected it.
1947 AD: The Dead Sea Scrolls are first discovered at Qumran.
1948 AD: Amid civil unrest and violence, Britain withdraws from the mandate.
1948 AD: A Jewish provisional government declares Israel an independent state. In response, Arab forces invaded Jerusalem.
1949 AD: Israel prevails in Arab-Israeli War, though Egypt holds Gaza, and Jordan holds the West Bank and East Jerusalem. More than 700,000 Palestinians become refugees.
1964 AD: Pope Paul VI visits Israel, becoming the first pope in one thousand years to visit the Holy Land.
1967 AD: In the Six-Day War against Egypt, Jordan and Syria, Israel acquired Sinai, Gaza, Golan Heights, West Bank and East Jerusalem.
1969 AD: The Church of the Annunciation in Nazareth, the largest Christian church in the Middle East, is completed.
1979 AD: Israel and Egypt sign a peace treaty. Israel agrees to return Sinai to Egypt.
1986 AD: Remains of a fishing boat from the time of Jesus were found in the Sea of Galilee.
1987-93 AD: Palestinians carry out the First Intifada (uprising) against Israeli occupation.
1993 AD: Israel gives the Palestinian National Authority limited autonomy in West Bank and Gaza.
1994 AD: Jordan and Israel sign a peace treaty.
1996 AD: The Muslims construct a prayer hall under the Temple Mount called the Al-Marwani mosque, with a capacity for 7,000 worshippers.
2000-05 AD: A second Intifada followed a controversial visit by Israeli politician Ariel Sharon to Temple Mount.
2002 AD: Palestinian militants occupy the Church of the Nativity, Bethlehem, for 39 days.
2002 AD: Israel begins building a 700-km West Bank security wall.
2005 AD: Remains of an early 3rd-century church were found at Megiddo.
2005 AD: Israel withdraws both settlers and military from Gaza.
2007 AD: Archaeologist Ehud Netzer discovers Herod the Great’s long-lost tomb at the Herodium, south of Bethlehem.
2008 AD: Responding to rocket attacks, Israel launched a 22-day war against Gaza.
2009 AD: Archaeologists in Nazareth uncover a residential building from the time of Jesus at the International Mary of Nazareth Center.
2012 AD: The United Nations General Assembly accepts Palestine as a “non-member observer state”.
2013 AD: City of David excavators find a clay seal inscribed with the name of Bethlehem, becoming the first reference to the city outside the Bible.
2014 AD: Discovery of nine previously unknown Dead Sea Scrolls is announced. The tiny texts were inside an unopened tefillin (prayer case) found at Qumran in 1952.
2014 AD: Responding to rocket fire, Israel launches a seven-week bombardment of Gaza.
2017 AD: Restoration of the Tomb of Christ in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher is completed. The actual limestone burial bed of Jesus hasn’t been seen since 1555 AD, 562 years earlier.
2021 AD: About 80 new fragments of Biblical scrolls, bearing lines from the books of Zechariah and Nahum, are found in the Judean desert.