Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Trading Routes

Through history trading has been an important part of a countries economy. The international trading routes determined the relationships Israel had with the surrounding world powers. Because Israel was the overland trading route, power struggles between empires shaped how the region looked and functioned.

The typography of Israel allows for one easily accessible trading route running north-south paralleling the coast, and two major routes running east-west through the country. The placement of Israel as a connecting strip fro Egypt and Africa in the South, Damascus and Mesopotamia in the northeast and Europe in the northwest has caused these trading routes to be highly contested high friction areas through history.

The north-south trading route runs along the Coastal Plains. There were two possible paths along the Coastal Plains; one path ran along the coast, past Gaza, Ashkelon, Ashdod and Jappa before heading in east to Aphek to miss the swampy Sharon Plain. The other path ran internally more, and travelers could stop in Ekron and Lod before stopping in Aphek.

The east-west trading routes were similarly important. In the south there is a pass running through the Negev connecting southern areas with the trading powers. Those living in the southern areas, which included the Moabites and Edomites, often used this pass. Since these regions were not friends to Israel, having well fortified centers in the south was important to the security of the country in addition to the trade in the area.

The other east-west trading route located in the north is through the Jezreel and Herod Valleys to the Sea of Galilee before continuing north through the Huleh Basin. This more northern pass was extremely important for those traveling to or from Damascus and Mesopotamia. Because of the military strength of these areas, well-fortified centers were also crucial to this region.

Trade is important historically; countries were interconnected and traded with one another. The ways people got from one location to another has always been important, and the desire to control trading traffic can cause conflict.

This was not a blog I intended to do initially. I started writing one about Tel Dan, but soon realized it, along with several other locations I’ve visited, is located on the ancient travel routes. Tel Dan's location is crucial to its historical story, and I can now go on to explain the interesting specific facts about the location.

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