"Below you'll see a panorama of Gaza City as well as much of the Strip. Gaza City, with a population of over 500,000 is the largest city of Palestine. It is the commercial and economic hub of the Strip.
But, Gaza City is much more. In fact, the historical record of Gaza extends back to 3500 BC and reads like a Who’s Who of famed personalities: Rameses I, II, and III, Samson, Saul, David, Solomon, Alexander, Plutarch, Pompey, Caesar, Herod, Jesus, Antony, Cleopatra, Porphyry, Omar ibn Khattab, Hashim ibn Abd Manaf (great grandfather of Mohammed), Richard, Pasha, Napoleon, Ali, and Allenby—among many. The historical record begins with the Egyptians driving out the Hyskos in 1580 BC, and follows up through the time of Christ by subsequent invasions of Philistines, Israelites, Babylonians, Persians, Greeks, Seleucids, Romans, and Jews.
This prominence reveals both Gaza’s historical honor and tragedy—both largely consequences, and casualties of its geography. Gaza was the chief center of the frankincense trade as early as 500 BC, as well as the commercial center for many other products. It was famed for its fairs, theatres, and school of rhetoric, which was at the time the basis of all higher education. So important was Gaza in Roman times that it had its own calendar.
The inscription on one coin minted at Gaza around the turn of the millennium read: “The city of the Gazaeans is sacred, and an asylum and autonomous, faithful, pious, brilliant, and great.” Five hundred years later, Antoninus Martyr wrote: “Gaza is a splendid and beautiful city; its men most honest, liberal in every respect, and friendly to the pilgrims.”
(c Brian K. Barber)