Gaza's Historical Cycles of Prosperity and Destruction

Is the present an aberration?

Authored by: Yasmeen El Khoudary

Routledge Handbook on Middle East Cities

Print publication date:  June  2019
Online publication date:  June  2019

Print ISBN: 9781138650749
eBook ISBN: 9781315625164
Adobe ISBN:


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In recent times, Gaza has received substantial world attention and media coverage, describing it as the biggest open-air prison in the world, the most densely populated spot on earth, an unliveable place by 2020, among other descriptions that foresee a doomed future for the Gaza Strip. Gaza’s cultural and archaeological heritage, which receives minimal attention in studies about Palestine’s archaeology, is distorted by Israeli colonial strategies in the fields of history and archaeology and forgotten by Gazans themselves, forming a case of “exclusionary heritage”. Analysing the cyclical nature of the city’s ancient past through metaphorical and historical frameworks, the study asks whether Gaza’s current situation is part of a natural historical cycle or an aberration. Can the city’s archaeological and cultural heritage and knowledge of a more “positive” history be used to redeem its forgotten past and to heal its people from their ongoing trauma and frustration? To enable a reconnection with its “cosmopolitan” past, the ongoing isolation of the Strip must be broken.

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