Bethlehem is located in the West Bank near Jerusalem. The city is mentioned in the Amarna letters of the ca. 1400 BCE when it was inhabited by Caananites. It is identified in the Hebrew Bible as the city King David was born and where he was later crowned King of Israel. The Christian New Testament identifies the city as the birthplace of Jesus. Archaeological evidence of occupation begins in the Canaanite period with the discovery of a 7 acre necropolis that dates from 2200 BCE.
During the Israelite period, the city of Bethlehem was a part of the Kingdom of Judah, which has been corroborated with archaeological evidence in the form of a bulla stamped in Hebrew with the words “From the town of Bethlehem to the King” (8th/7th century BCE). The site was widely contested during the crusades, and as a result the city fell under the leadership of multiple groups, including the Umayyads, Abbasids, Crusaders, Muslim Ayyubids, eventually coming under Ottoman rule in 1517.
Archaeologically, there is not a large amount of the ancient city still standing, but the city holds importance for its religious significance. The Church of the Nativity is the most important monument in the city, and it is believed to contain the grotto in which Jesus was born. There are some sites such as the supposed burial place of Rachel just outside the city.