HomeHistory of PalestineThe Rise of Christianity


63 BCE
The Roman Republic Conquers Judea

In 63 BCE the Roman Republic conquered Judea and split the Hasmonean Kingdom into five districts.

66 – 136
Jewish & Roman Wars

From 66 – 136 CE there were the Jewish–Roman wars. These were a series of revolts by the Jews against the Romans and they had an important effect. They turned the Jews from a major population in the Eastern Mediterranean into a scattered minority. In 70 CE Emperor Titus’ troops sacked the Second Temple in Jerusalem.


This was the start of the Jewish Diaspora – when the Jews were scattered throughout Europe and Asia.

There have been a number of diaspora: the Greeks following the fall of Constantinople; the African slave trade; the southern Chinese during the coolie trade; the Irish following the Irish Famine; the displacement of Palestinians in the 20th century; to name but a few.

Hadrian Joins Syria and Judea

In 132 CE Hadrian joined Syria and Judea to form Syria Palaestina and Jerusalem was renamed Aelia Capitolina. Syria-Palaestina comprised the Levant, and parts of western Mesopotamia. In 194 CE Syria Palaestina was reorganised into Prima, Secunda and Tertia. Prima consisted of Judea, Samaria, the Paralia (coastal Palestine) and Peraea (east of the River Jordan).

In the 1st century CE the population of Palestine was approximately 2,500 and the majority were Jewish.

270 – 273
The Palmyrene Empire

In 270 CE the Palmyrene Empire (Northern Syria) broke away from the Roman Empire and took control of Palaestina. Zenobia ruled as regent and attempted to claim the imperial title for herself. The Roman Emperor Aurelian arrested Zenobia, a year later the Palmyrenes rebelled, and finally Aurelian destroyed Palmyra.

The Palmyrene Empire lasted from 270-273 CE. Zenobia was regent for her son Vaballathus in 267 CE and took an opportunity to rebel when the Roman emperor Alexander Severus was murdered and Roman generals squabbled. The empire only lasted three years but is highly regarded by Syrians as a call to nationalism and independence.

306 – 324
Roman Civil Wars & Emperor Constantine

From 306 to 324 CE the Civil wars of the Tetrarchy occurred within the Roman Empire and culminated with Constantine becoming Emperor. He started the Christianisation of the empire and his mother, Saint Helena, began the construction of churches and shrines in Jerusalem. Palestine became a centre of Christianity and attracted monks and scholars. Constantine united the Roman Empire in a new capital of Byzantium called Constantinople (now Istanbul). He declared Christianity to be the religion of the area.

By the 5th century CE the population of Palestine was less than 2,500 and the majority were Christian.