History of Ancient Lod
Lod was founded ca. 8000 years ago, in the Neolithic period. Since then, it has been populated throughout all the historical periods, and is apparently the only city in the world which has maintained such population stability.
Lod was mentioned during the reign of the Pharaoh Thutmoses III, Who travelled through the city on his way to subdue an alliance of Canaanite and Syrin cities, near the city of Megiddo. From the Persian era and onwards, Lod became an important center for the Jewish community. During the times of the Mishna and the Talmud, Lod was a foremost center for Jewish spiritual and literary creativity.
The first inhabitants of Lod reached the area about 8,000 years ago, during the Neolithic Period. This was the Agriculture Revolution period in which people abandoned the former hunter-gatherer way of life, started the domestication of cereals and legumes and began practicing agriculture. Lod is one of the few settlements of that era found to date in Israel. Due to the important archaeological discoveries found in the city, the “Lodian Culture” became well known as a cultural assemblage characterizing other local Pottery Neolithic sites.
Several hundred people settled at Lod during the Neolithic (Late Stone Age) and the Chalcolithic (age of stone and copper) periods. The center of this settlement was located in the middle of the contemporary Remez neighbourhood.
Bronze and Iron Ages
During the Early Bronze Age, the settlement of Lod grew to the size of 10 hectares, and was inhabited by over 2,000 people. Early Bronze Age discoveries found in archaeological excavations conducted in Lod include typical Egyptian ceramics, Egyptian "baking trays" and pottery vessels inscribed with Egyptian king names. This testifies to connections between Lod and the southern empire of Egypt. Egyptian representatives may have lived in Lod or traded with the local population.
Persian and Hellenistic Periods
Lod became an important Jewish center during the Persian period. During the Hellenistic period, which partially corresponds to the Hasmonean period, the Seleucid King Demetrius I, who ruled between 161-150 BCE, suggested moving Lod from the control of Samaria to the Judea district due to its Jewish majority. The Seleucid rulers transferred Lod to the Hasmonean Dynasty and it became the capital of a Judean district. During this period the settlement moved southward for the first time – to the area in which St. George Church, al-Omri Mosque and Khan al-Hilu are located today. During this period Lod grew larger and more important, with a population of about 2,500. Discoveries surrounding the city show that the rural area has been populated by Jewish majority.
The Roman and Byzantine Periods
(37 BCE-640 CE)
During the Roman Empire, Lod was recognized as a central crossroads in Israel. Seven imperial roads connected Lod with all the important centers in Israel, thus making the city the heart of the land.
During this time, Lod was called DIOSOPOLIS, the city of God. Accordingly, impressive temples were built and Lod became an opulent city like Caesarea, Beit She'an, and other Roman cities.
Early Islamic period and the Crusader period
During the 7th century, the country was occupied by the Moslems. The Moslem rulers designated Lod as the civil capital of "Jund Palestine" (The Palestinian district). Only 80 years later they founded the neighboring city of Ramla, which was built to replace Lod as capital.
The Mamluk Period
During the 13th century the Mameluks captured Lod. They constructed the El-Omari Mosque and the Jindas Bridge over the Ayalon stream, north of the city. The Jindas Bridge is one of the most Impressive ancient bridges in Israel.
The Ottoman period
During the Ottoman period Lod became a central town in the Ayalon stream area, and an important center for the olive and oil industry. The city still contains several impressive stone buildings used by the oil industry. The city also boasts the beautiful Khan Khilu, mosques and stone buildings which have survived to date.
The British Mandate
When the British occupied the country, like the Romans before them, they too understood that Lod is a natural center of Israel. Consequently, Lod was chosen as the location for the central train station between Cairo in the South, and Damascus in the north, as well as the International air terminal, named Lod Airport, later renamed Ben Gurion Airport.