A little Middle Eastern history... 

A little Middle Eastern history...

Israelites, a Semitic people, apparently of nomadic origin, whose emergence in the Levant is identified with a shift of settlement at the start if the Iron Age (c. 1200 bc), when a new pattern of small villages dispersed in upland regions replaced the urban life of the Bronze Age. Explanations for this process range from the nomadic invasion thesis (derived from Biblical accounts in Exodus) to settlement of indigenous populations of nomads and brigands, to social revolution by the urban lower classes at the end of the Bronze Age. The Israelites' conquest of areas occupied by the Canaanites brought them into an ultimately successful conflict with the Philistines. The major building works carried out under the united kingdom belong to the reign of Solomon. The northern kingdom of Israel (see Samaria) was conquered by the Assyrians in the late 8th century BC, while the southern kingdom of Judah was reduced by the Babylonians in the early 6th century BC. See also Jerusalem.

Jerusalem, a city in the Judaean hills, Israel, which has been occupied for thousands of years and which has been excavated virtually continuously since the 1860s. Comparatively little remains of ancient Jerusalem, chiefly because of the repeated destructions suffered by the city (e.g. that of Titus in 70 AD) and later Byzantine and Islamic overbuilding. The first major construction at Jerusalem seems to have been the stone fortifications of the late Bronze Age. Jerusalem was captured by the Israelites under Davin in c.996 BC and extended to the north by Solomon, who built a temple and palace in an area later overbuilt by the Herodian temple platform, and by Hezekiah, whose water tunnel is still visible. Jerusalem was patronised by the Byzantine emperors beause of its Christian associations and by Islamic caliphs as a holy city. Most of the walls to be seen at Jerusalem are the work of Suleiman the Magnificent (1538-41 AD) on top of Herodian and Roman foundations, while the octagonal 'Dome of the Rock' (685-692 AD) is the most striking of the Islamic buildings in Jerusalem.

Canaanites, an ethnic group identified with the sophisticated urban civilisation of the Levant during the Bronze Age (see Hazor, Jericho, Lachish, Beit Mersim). The Canaanites were dislodged from much of their territory by the Israelites and Philistines, but much of their culture persisted among the Phoenicians.

Phoenicians, a Semitic people, the cultural heirs of the Canaanites, who flourished as traders from their ports of Byblos, Sidon, and Tyre during the 1st millennium BC. They are credited with the founding of Carthage and the invention of the alphabet.

Philistines, one of the Sea Peoples whose occupation of southern Palestine marks the beginning of the Iron Age in that region. The five chief cities of the Philistines (the 'Pentapolis') were Ashkelon, Ashdod, Gaza, Gath, and Ekron.

(All from my archaeology encyclopedia.)

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