City and House

Model of a house, Arad Early Bronze Age II 3,000 BCE ־ 2,650 Clay IAA 1964236

The process of urbanization revolutionized society, leading to the consolidation of religion, the institutionalization of government, the flourishing of the arts, and the prospering of international commerce, together with other far-reaching cultural phenomena. This process was rooted in changes undergone by the village: with the growth in population, not everybody was called to work in agriculture, and social classes were formed. As the chasm between the classes widened and the administrative system grew increasingly complex, conditions ripened for the creation of urban culture.

The earliest cities were carefully planned units whose rule extended to the surrounding agricultural villages and lands. They were built on the banks of important rivers in Mesopotamia and Egypt in the second half of the 4th millennium BCE. Shortly thereafter cities also began to emerge in the Land of Israel — among them Beit Yerah, Megiddo, Ai, Tel Erani, and Arad.

The city offered protection against enemies and the forces of nature. There the individual could build houses — units that contributed to the urban fabric while providing privacy, a warm space, and the possibility to enjoy the advantages of the city. With the development of civilization and the emergence of big cities around the globe, the tension between the individual and society increased, and the sense of protection offered by the city was replaced by with a sense of alienation. Even the home — the private cell where the individual can feel perfectly safe — has become a place where we sometimes feel marginalized and isolated.