Southern Levant

The Southern Levant is a geographical region encompassing the southern half of the Levant. It corresponds approximately to modern-day Israel, Palestine, and Jordan; some definitions also include southern Lebanon, southern Syria and/or the Sinai Peninsula. As a strictly geographical description, it is sometimes used by archaeologists and historians to avoid the religious and political connotations of other names for the area.

Like much of Southwestern Asia, the Southern Levant is an arid region consisting mostly of desert and dry steppe, with a thin strip of wetter, temperate climate along the Mediterranean coast. Geographically it is dominated by the Jordan Valley, a section of the Great Rift Valley bisecting the region from north to south, and containing the Sea of Galilee, the Jordan River and the Dead Sea – the lowest point on the earth's land surface.

The Southern Levant has a long history and is one of the areas of the world most intensively investigated by archaeologists. It is considered likely to be the first place that both early hominins and modern humans colonised outside of Africa. Consequently, it has a rich Stone Age archaeology, stretching back as early as 1.5 million years ago. With one of the earliest sites for urban settlements of humans, it also corresponds to the western parts of the Fertile Crescent.

Satellite imagery of the Southern Levant


Maps showing the extent of the Southern Levant based on geographic features (left)[1][2][3][4][5] or modern political boundaries (right).[6][7][8] Definitions vary between scholars:

  Core area of the Southern Levant (Israel, Palestine & Jordan)
  Other regions sometimes included in the Southern Levant (Southern Lebanon, Southern Syria, the Sinai Peninsula & the Badia)

Southern Levant map
Southern Levant countries map

The Southern Levant refers to the lower half of the Levant but there is some variance of geographical definition, with the widest definition including Israel, Palestine, Jordan, Lebanon, southern Syria and the Sinai Desert.[7] In the field of archaeology, the southern Levant is "the region formerly identified as Syria-Palestine and including Canaan."[9]

Many scholars studying the region's archaeology have adopted the term Levant (including northern and southern halves) as the "term of choice" due to it being a "wider, yet relevant, cultural corpus" that does not have the "political overtones" of Syria-Palestine.[9] A survey of North American dissertations shows the "overwhelming emphasis and scope of these works has been the southern Levant, an area formerly identified as Syria-Palestine including Canaan", but with most modern Ph.D. dissertations using the terms 'Israel' and 'Canaan'.[9]

The term "Southern Levant" has also been criticized as imprecise[10] and an awkward name.[11][12] The term Southern Levant has been described in academic discourse as a "at least a strictly geographical" description of the region, avoiding religious and political connotations of names such as "Canaan", "Holy Land", "Land of Israel", or "Palestine".[11]


Southern Levant topographic map
Topographic map of the Southern Levant

The Southern Levant lies on the eastern coast of the Mediterranean Sea, in the world region known variously as the Near East, the Middle East or Western or Southwestern Asia. It is bordered to the east, southeast and southwest by the Syrian, Arabian and Sinai deserts, respectively.[3][5] Some definitions include parts of these deserts in the region.[1] The Litani River is commonly considered the dividing line between the Southern Levant and the Northern Levant (i.e. Syria),[1][2][5] or sometimes the Orontes River, also in central Lebanon.[3]

For the most part, the climate of the Southern Levant is arid or semi-arid, however a narrow strip along the coast experiences a temperate, Mediterranean climate due to its proximity to the sea.[13] Average annual rainfall decreases sharply away from the coast, from over 1,000 millimetres (39 inches) per year in Galilee, to 200–400 millimetres (7.9–15.7 inches) in the Rift Valley, and less than 50 millimetres (2.0 inches) in the eastern deserts and the Negev.[14] Across the region, precipitation is both highly seasonal―most rain falls between October and May, and hardly any in the summer—and subject to large, unpredictable interannual variation.[13] Temperature is also highly variable, with cool winters and hot summers.

The Jordan River bisects much of the region into the Cisjordan and Transjordan. The Huleh basin feeds into the upper Jordan, which moves southward through a natural basalt barrier into the Sea of Galilee before dropping several hundred metres as it flows through the Jordan Valley. The Jordan River terminates at the Dead Sea, whose banks, at 400 metres (1,300 feet) below sea level, are the world's lowest point on dry land.[15]

Archaeological findings

The archaeology of the southern Levant is generally conceived as a series of phases or stages in human cultural and evolutionary development based, for the most part, on tool technology for early pre-historic, proto-historic and early historic periods. Later phases are generally associated with historical periods and are named accordingly. While there is no single, accepted sequence that all archaeologists agree upon, the basic conventions indicate a number of Stone Ages, followed by a Copper/Stone age, in turn followed by a Bronze Age. The names given to them, derived from the Greek, are also used widely for other regions. The different ages in turn are often divided up into sequential or sometimes parallel chrono-cultural facies, sometimes called “cultures” or “periods”. Sometimes their names are derived from European prehistory, at other times from local sites, often where they were first discovered.

Archaeologically, it is among the most extensively excavated regions in the world.[16]

Pre-history and Stone Age

The Southern Levant is amongst the oldest inhabited parts of Eurasia, being on one of three plausible routes by which early hominins could have dispersed out of Africa (along with the Bab al Mandab and the Strait of Gibraltar).[17] Homo erectus left Africa and became the first hominin species to colonise Europe and Asia approximately two million years ago, probably via the Southern Levant.[18][19] During this phase of the Pleistocene epoch the region was wetter and greener, allowing H. erectus to find places with fresh water as it followed other African animals that were dispersing out of Africa at the same time.[20] One such location was 'Ubeidiya, on the southern shore of the Sea of Galilee, where some of the oldest hominin remains in Eurasia have been discovered, dating to between 1.2 million and 1.5 million years ago.[21][22]

Several stone ages, when stone tools prevailed and make up the bulk of artifacts, are followed by periods when other technologies came into use. They lent their names to the different periods. The basic framework for the southern Levant is, as follows: Paleolithic or Old Stone Age is often divided up into phases called, from early-to-late: Lower Paleolithic, Middle Paleolithic and Upper Paleolithic. An Epipaleolithic (latest Paleolithic) period, also known as Mesolithic (transition to Neolithic) follows and is, in turn succeeded by a Neolithic (New Stone Age).

The following Chalcolithic period includes the first evidence of metallurgy with copper making its appearance. However, as stone technology remains prevalent, the name, Chalcolithic (Copper/Stone) age combines the two.

Bronze Age

Bronze is used for the following periods, but is actually a misnomer for a good part of that time. An Early Bronze Age is divided into three major phases, Early Bronze I, II and III, but copper and not bronze was the most common metal in use, while stone technology continued to contribute the bulk of tools. Early Bronze III is followed by another period, alternately named Early Bronze IV, Middle Bronze I, Intermediate Bronze or Early Bronze-Middle Bronze. In this period the name is apt; true bronze (a tin alloy of copper) makes its appearance in this time span.

The next period is generally known as Middle Bronze II and is generally broken down into two sub-periods, Middle Bronze IIa and Middle Bronze IIb. Some scholars acknowledge a Middle Bronze III. The next period is known as Late Bronze and is often sub-divided into Late Bronze I and II.

Iron Age

The introduction of iron, although relatively rare, especially in the earliest phases, caused the following phase to be named the Iron Age. It is variously sub-divided into Iron I, Iron II and sometimes Iron III, with subdivisions becoming increasingly popular as sequences become better known. Some archaeologists suggest that there in the transition from the Late Bronze Age to the Early Iron Age, the large cultural differences are explained by foreign invasion, that is, the introduction of new ethnicity. More recent evidence indicates that the large culture changes were not the result of a foreign invasion. Rather, the Iron Age people of the southern Levant were related to their Bronze Age predecessors.[23]

Later historical periods

The post Iron Age is generally thought of as historical and accordingly names of periods reflect this. The very latest Iron Age phase is sometimes called “Assyrian” and the following period is universally known as the Persian period.

The 333 BC conquest of the region is accepted as the beginning of the Hellenistic period. The Deuterocanonical book 2 Maccabees records: "Apollonius the son of Tharseas, who at that time was governor of Celesyria and Phenicia", Celesyria being the transliteration of Coele-Syria.[24] It is followed by Early Roman and Late Roman periods. The 4th century is recognized as the beginning of the Byzantine period that lasted until the Arab conquest of the region.

Later periods are alternately known as Early Arab and sub-periods by the names of reigning dynasties. The Crusader conquest of the region is known, appropriately as the Crusader period and it is followed by a Mameluke period after the conquering dynasty. In 1517 the Ottoman empire conquered the region and gave its name to the period that lasted until 1917, when the British conquered it in World War I.

See also


  1. ^ a b c Yakar, Jak (1998). "The socio-economic structure of prehistoric communities in the Southern Levant, c. 13000-8000 BP". Documenta Praehistorica. XXV. The Levant, which extends from the southern flanks of the eastern Taurus in the north, down to the Sinai peninsula in the south, defines a territory c. 1,300 kilometres (810 miles) long and 350 kilometres (220 miles) wide. The Northern Levant includes the region encompassing the north-eastern Mediterranean littoral and the valleys of the Orontes, Middie Euphrates and Balikh in Syria. The region defined as the Southern Levant encompasses the territory crossed by the valleys of the Litani and Jordan, including the Mediterranean littoral extending from Lebanon to northern Sinai. Moreover, the Negev, the Sinai peninsula and Jordan are considered parts of this vast region.
  2. ^ a b Peregrine, Peter N.; Ember, Melvin (2003). Encyclopedia of Prehistory: Volume 8: South and Southwest Asia. Springer Science & Business Media. p. 86. ISBN 9780306462627. The southern Levant, as defined here, is delimited by the Litani River to the north, the Jordan Rift Valley to the East, the Gulf of Aqaba to the south, and the Mediterranean Sea and Sinai Desert to the west.
  3. ^ a b c Routledge, Bruce (2004). Moab in the Iron Age: Hegemony, Polity, Archaeology. University of Pennsylvania Press. p. 223. ISBN 978-0812238013. The southern Levant refers to all of the territory south of the headwaters of the Orontes River and west of the Syrian Desert.
  4. ^ Stone, Peter James (2012). 'Provincial' Perspectives: The Persian, Ptolemaic, and Seleucid Administrative Center at Tel Kedesh, Israel, in a Regional Context (PDF) (Thesis).
  5. ^ a b c Steiner, Margreet L.; Killebrew, Ann E. (2014). The Oxford Handbook of the Archaeology of the Levant: C. 8000-332 BCE. OUP Oxford. p. 35. ISBN 9780199212972. The term Levant, as used here, covers an area that is often referred to in archaeological works by other terms most notably Syria-Palestine and North Syria. [...] The western coastline and the eastern deserts set the boundaries for the Levant and these natural barriers will therefore serve as brackets for the area under discussion. The general limits of the Levant as defined here begin at the Plain of 'Amuq in the north and extend south until the Wadi al-Arish along the northern coast of Sinai. The western coastline and the eastern deserts set the boundaries for the Levant [...] The Euphrates and the area around Jebel el-Bishrī mark the eastern boundary of the northern Levant, as does the Syrian Desert beyond the Anti-Lebanon range's eastern hinterland and Mount Hermon. This boundary continues south in the form of the highlands and eastern desert regions of Transjordan. Although the geographical boundaries described here are not absolute the Litani River will mark the division of the northern Levant from the southern Levant. Cyprus is not part of the Levant geographically but it is included on account of its proximity (and resulting cultural ties), as well as its geographical significance, size and natural resources.
  6. ^ Rowan, Yorke M.; Golden, Jonathan (2009). "The Chalcolithic Period of the Southern Levant: A Synthetic Review". Journal of World Prehistory. 22 (1): 1–92. doi:10.1007/s10963-009-9016-4. ISSN 0892-7537. The focus of this discussion, the southern Levant, encompasses the southern sections of Lebanon and Syria, the Palestine Autonomous Authority, Israel, and Jordan.
  7. ^ a b Levy, Thomas E.; Najjar, Mohammad; Higham, Thomas (2010). "Ancient texts and archaeology revisited – radiocarbon and Biblical dating in the southern Levant". Antiquity. 84 (325): 834–847. doi:10.1017/S0003598X00100250. ISSN 1745-1744. One of the world's 'hot spots' for this kind of historically-led archaeology is still the southern Levant – the region that includes Israel, the Palestinian territories, Jordan, Lebanon, southern Syria and the Sinai Desert.
  8. ^ "CISA3 Archaeologists Develop 3-D Images of Artifacts for Digital Pottery Informatics Database". Retrieved 2016-07-26. In its initial format, the DPID will consist of data from the Iron Age (c. 1,200-500 BCE) ceramic database of the southern Levant, a region of the Middle East that now incorporates areas of Jordan, Israel, Palestine, Southern Lebanon, Syria and the Sinai Peninsula.
  9. ^ a b c Burke, Aaron A. (2016). "The Transformation of Biblical and Syro-Palestinian Archaeology". In Levy, Thomas Evan (ed.). Historical Biblical Archaeology and the Future: The New Pragmatism. Routledge. ISBN 9781134937530. Much work continues to be done in these regions, and not surprisingly this work is now of great interest to those studying the southern Levant (i.e. the region formerly identified as Syria-Palestine and including Canaan) [...] Nevertheless, despite such a well-reasoned basis for the identification of Levantine archaeology, the adoption of this term by many scholars has been, for the most part, simply the result of individual attempts to consider a wider, yet relevant, cultural corpus than that which is suggested by the use of terms like Canaan, Israel, or even Syria-Palestine. Regardless of the manner in which the term has come into common use, for a couple of additional reasons it seems clear that the Levant will remain the term of choice. In the first place scholars have shown a penchant for the term Levant, despite the fact that the term ‘Syria-Palestine’ has been advocated since the late 1970s. This is evident from the fact that no journal or series today has adopted a title that includes ‘Syria-Palestine’. However, the journal Levant has been published since 1969 and since 1990 Ägypten und Levante has also attracted a plethora of papers relating to the archaeology of this region. Furthermore, a search through any electronic database of titles reveals an overwhelming adoption of the term ‘Levant’ when compared to ‘Syria-Palestine’ for archaeological studies. Undoubtedly, this is mostly due to the fact that ‘Syria-Palestine’ is, correctly speaking, the title for a Roman administrative division of the Levant created by Hadrian (Millar 1993). The term ‘Syria-Palestine’ also carries political overtones that inadvertently evoke current efforts to establish a full-fledged Palestinian state. Scholars have recognized, therefore, that—for at least the time being—they can spare themselves further headaches by adopting the term Levant to identify this region.
  10. ^ "Note éditoriale" [Editorial remarks]. Paléorient. 19 (1). 1993. In gathering contributions for the present issue, it soon became apparent - and this is a generally valid point - that imprecise terminology is one of the major difficulties encountered in our research. An example is the term "Southern Levant" used as a substitute for the geographers’ "Palestine". The use of this term hides the particularism of the regions on either side of the Jordan Valley just when the discoveries of the last decade have highlighted their specificity. The lack of precision traditional terminology (agriculture, herding, pastoralism, neolithic, etc.) applied to the complex phenomena that we are studying constantly leads to misunderstandings.
  11. ^ a b de Geus, C. H. J. (2003). Towns in Ancient Israel and in the Southern Levant. Palaestina Antiqua 10. Peeters Publishers. p. 6. ISBN 9789042912694. At the beginning of this Introduction I have indicated how difficult it is to choose a general accepted name for the region this book deals with. In Europe we are used to the late Roman name 'Palestine,' and the designation 'Palestinian Archaeology' has a long history. According to Byzantine usage it included CisJordan and TransJordan and even Lebanon and Sinai. In modern times, however, the name 'Palestine' has exclusively become the political designation for a restricted area. Furthermore, in the period this book deals with a region called 'Palestine' did not yet exist. Also the ancient name 'Canaan' cannot be used as it refers to an older period in history. Designations as: 'The Land(s) of the Bible' or 'the Hold Land' evoke the suspicion of a theological bias. 'The Land of Israel' does not apply to the situation because it never included Lebanon or the greater part of modern Jordan. Therefore I have joined those who today advocate the designation 'Southern Levant.' Although I confess that it is an awkward name, it is at least strictly geographical.
  12. ^ Arnold, Bill T. (2014). Introduction to the Old Testament. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. p. 37. ISBN 9780521879651. What we call the land of the Bible today has potential for misunderstanding. This small strip of land in the Southern Levant has been occupied by so many, fought over and carved up so many times, that it is hard to know just what to call it. The use of 'Israel' implies to some that all of it belongs today only to the Jews as legitimate descendants of OT Israel. Similarly, 'Palestine' has a longstanding usage, but may imply that all of it belongs to Palestinian Arabs exclusively. Both of these terms could be used strictly for geography. But because of the contemporary Israeli-Palestinian conflict, both terms also may introduce misunderstanding. And biblical scholars have no universal agreement on this topic. 'Syria-Palestine' is often used, as here, for geographical precision. But it is only the southern portion of Syria-Palestine that was occupied by ancient Israel, and it does not always communicate sufficiently. 'Canaan' is an ancient name, but it also is not exactly conterminous with the land occupied by ancient Israel. I have used 'Southern Levant' occasionally here but admit that this is a strange expression. l will most often refer simply to 'Israel,' by which I mean the territory of national Israel in the OT, but hope the reader will understand no modern political claims by this use.
  13. ^ a b Ziv, Baruch; Dayan, Uri; Kushnir, Yohanan; Roth, Chaggi; Enzel, Yehouda (2006-01-01). "Regional and global atmospheric patterns governing rainfall in the southern Levant". International Journal of Climatology. 26 (1): 55–73. doi:10.1002/joc.1238. ISSN 1097-0088.
  14. ^ Ziv, Baruch; Saaroni, Hadas; Pargament, Roee; Harpaz, Tzvi; Alpert, Pinhas (2013-02-22). "Trends in rainfall regime over Israel, 1975–2010, and their relationship to large-scale variability". Regional Environmental Change. 14 (5): 1751–1764. doi:10.1007/s10113-013-0414-x. ISSN 1436-3798.
  15. ^ Orni, Efraim; Efrat, Elisha (1971). Geography of Israel (3rd ed.). American Heritage Press. ISBN 978-0070477018.
  16. ^ Anfinset, Nils (2003). "A passion for cultural difference. Archaeology and ethnicity in the southern Levant". Norwegian Archaeological Review. 36 (1): 45–63. doi:10.1080/00293650307299. Retrieved 2016-04-26.
  17. ^ Fleagle, John G., Shea, John J., Grine, Frederick E., Baden, Andrea L., Leakey, Richard E., "Out of Africa I: The First Hominin Colonization of Eurasia", Springer 2010 pp 247-273.
  18. ^ Abbate, Ernesto; Sagri, Mario (2012-07-26). "Early to Middle Pleistocene Homo dispersals from Africa to Eurasia: Geological, climatic and environmental constraints". Quaternary International. The genus Homo from Africa to Europe: evolution of terrestrial ecosystems and dispersal routes. 267: 3–19. doi:10.1016/j.quaint.2011.02.043.
  19. ^ Rolland, Nicolas (2013-12-06). "The Early Pleistocene human dispersals in the Circum-Mediterranean Basin and initial peopling of Europe: Single or multiple pathways?". Quaternary International. Middle to Upper Palaeolithic biological and cultural shift in Eurasia II. 316: 59–72. doi:10.1016/j.quaint.2013.06.028.
  20. ^ Carotenuto, F.; Tsikaridze, N.; Rook, L.; Lordkipanidze, D.; Longo, Laura; Condemi, Silvana; Raia, P. (2016-06-01). "Venturing out safely: The biogeography of Homo erectus dispersal out of Africa". Journal of Human Evolution. 95: 1–12. doi:10.1016/j.jhevol.2016.02.005. PMID 27260171.
  21. ^ Chazan, Michael (2015-10-05). World Prehistory and Archaeology. Routledge. p. 82. ISBN 9781317347514.
  22. ^ Martínez-Navarro, Bienvenido; Belmaker, Miriam; Bar-Yosef, Ofer (2009-05-01). "The large carnivores from 'Ubeidiya (early Pleistocene, Israel): biochronological and biogeographical implications". Journal of Human Evolution. 56 (5): 514–524. doi:10.1016/j.jhevol.2009.02.004. PMID 19427671.
  23. ^ Ullinger, Jaime M.; Sheridan, Susan Guise; Hawkey, Diane E.; Turner, Christy G.; Cooley, Robert (2005-10-01). "Bioarchaeological analysis of cultural transition in the southern Levant using dental nonmetric traits". American Journal of Physical Anthropology. 128 (2): 466–476. doi:10.1002/ajpa.20074. ISSN 0002-9483. PMID 15895418.
  24. ^ 2 Maccabees 3:8
Banu Judham

The Judham (Arabic: بنو جذام‎, Judhām) was an Arab tribe that inhabited the southern Levant and northwestern Arabia during the Byzantine and early Islamic eras (5th–8th centuries). Under the Byzantines, the tribe was nominally Christian and fought against the Muslim army between 629 and 636 when the Byzantines and their Arab allies were defeated at the Battle of Yarmouk. Afterward, the Judham converted to Islam and became the largest tribal faction of Jund Filastin (district of Palestine).

The genealogical origins of the Judham are unclear. They may have been descendants of the northern Arabs, though the tribe itself claimed Yemenite (southern Arab) origins. However, this may have done to draw closer to their Yemenite allies in Syria.


Canaan (; Northwest Semitic: knaʿn; Phoenician: 𐤊𐤍𐤏𐤍 Kenāʿan; Hebrew: כְּנַעַן – Kənáʿan, in pausa כְּנָעַן – Kənā́ʿan; Greek: Χαναάν – Khanaán; Arabic: كنعان‎, romanized: Kena‘an) was a Semitic-speaking region and civilization in the Ancient Near East during the late 2nd millennium BC. The name Canaan appears throughout the Bible, where it corresponds to the Levant, in particular to the areas of the Southern Levant that provide the main setting of the narrative of the Bible: Phoenicia, Philistia, Israel, and other nations.

The word Canaanites serves as an ethnic catch-all term covering various indigenous populations—both settled and nomadic-pastoral groups—throughout the regions of the southern Levant or Canaan. It is by far the most frequently used ethnic term in the Bible. In the Book of Joshua, Canaanites are included in a list of nations to exterminate, and later described as a group which the Israelites had annihilated. Biblical scholar Mark Smith notes that archaeological data suggests "that the Israelite culture largely overlapped with and derived from Canaanite culture... In short, Israelite culture was largely Canaanite in nature. The name "Canaanites" (כְּנָעַנִיְם kena‘anim, כְּנָעַנִי kena‘anī) is attested, many centuries later, as the endonym of the people later known to the Ancient Greeks from c. 500 BC as Phoenicians, and following the emigration of Canaanite-speakers to Carthage (founded in the 9th century BC), was also used as a self-designation by the Punics (chanani) of North Africa during Late Antiquity.

Canaan had significant geopolitical importance in the Late Bronze Age Amarna period (14th century BC) as the area where the spheres of interest of the Egyptian, Hittite, Mitanni and Assyrian Empires converged. Much of modern knowledge about Canaan stems from archaeological excavation in this area at sites such as Tel Hazor, Tel Megiddo, and Gezer. They also built cities that still stand until nowadays such as Sidon, Acre or Akka, Baalbek, Beirut, Byblos, Latakia, Ashkelon, Sur, Tyre, Tartus, Hebron, Jericho, Haifa, Jaffa, Tangier, Tripoli, Palermo, Cagliari, Rabat, Lisbon, Cadiz, Malaga, and Ibiza (town).

Definitions of Palestinian

This article describes several definitions of Palestinian.


Ghassulian refers to a culture and an archaeological stage dating to the Middle and Late Chalcolithic Period in the Southern Levant (c. 4400 – c. 3500 BC). Its type-site, Teleilat Ghassul (Teleilat el-Ghassul, Tulaylat al-Ghassul), is located in the eastern Jordan Valley near the northern edge of the Dead Sea, in modern Jordan. It was excavated in 1929-1938 and in 1959-1960, by the Jesuits. Basil Hennessy dug at the site in 1967 and in 1975-1977, and Stephen Bourke in 1994-1999.The Ghassulian stage was characterized by small hamlet settlements of mixed farming peoples, who had immigrated from the north and settled in the southern Levant - today's Jordan, Israel and Palestine. People of the Beersheba Culture (a Ghassulian subculture) lived in underground dwellings - a unique phenomenon in the archaeological history of the region - or in houses that were trapezoid-shaped and built of mud-brick. Those were often built partially underground (on top of collapsed underground dwellings) and were covered with remarkable polychrome wall paintings. Their pottery was highly elaborate, including footed bowls and horn-shaped drinking goblets, indicating the cultivation of wine. Several samples display the use of sculptural decoration or of a reserved slip (a clay and water coating partially wiped away while still wet). The Ghassulians were a Chalcolithic culture as they used stone tools but also smelted copper. Funerary customs show evidence that they buried their dead in stone dolmens and also practiced Secondary burial .

Settlements belonging to the Ghassulian culture have been identified at numerous other sites in what is today southern Israel, especially in the region of Beersheba, where elaborate underground dwellings have been excavated. The Ghassulian culture correlates closely with the Amratian of Egypt and also seems to have affinities (e.g., the distinctive churns, or “bird vases”) with early Minoan culture in Crete.


Khamsin, chamsin or hamsin (Arabic: خمسين‎ khamsīn, derived from the Arabic word for "fifty"), more commonly known in Egypt as khamaseen (Egyptian Arabic: خماسين‎ khamasīn, IPA: [xæmæˈsiːn]), is a dry, hot, sandy local wind affecting Egypt; similar winds, blowing in other parts of North Africa, the Arabian Peninsula and the entire Mediterranean basin, have different local names, such as bad-i-sad-o-bist roz in Iran and Afghanistan, haboob in the Sudan, aajej in southern Morocco, ghibli in Tunis, harmattan in the western Maghreb, africo in Italy, sirocco (derived from the Arabic sharkiyya, “easterly”) which blows in winter over much of the Middle East, and simoom.From the Arabic word for "fifty", these dry, sand-filled windstorms blow sporadically in Egypt over a fifty-day period in spring, hence the name. The term is also used in the southern Levant (Israel, Palestine, Jordan), where the phenomenon takes a partly different form and blows both during spring and autumn.When the storm passes over an area, lasting for several hours, it carries great quantities of sand and dust from the deserts, with a speed up to 140 kilometers per hour (87 mph; 76 knots), and the humidity in that area drops below 5%. Even in winter, the temperatures rise above 45° C (113° F) due to the storm. The sand storms are reported to have seriously impeded both Napoleon's military campaigns in Egypt as well as Allied-German fighting in North Africa in World War II.In the southern Levant it takes the shape of an oppressive weather front with hot temperatures, large quantities of dust impeding visibility, but no strong winds except during the night. In the Book of Exodus of the Hebrew Bible, the ruah kadim or "east wind" is the cause of the parting of the Red Sea (Exodus 14:21).


The Kutama (Berber: Iktamen) were a major Berber tribe in northern Algeria classified among the Berber confederation of the Bavares. The Kutama are attested much earlier, in the form Koidamousii by the Greek geographer Ptolemy.The Kutama played a pivotal role during the Fatimid Caliphate (909–1171), forming the Fatimid army which eventually overthrew the Aghlabids who controlled Ifriqiya, and which then went on to conquer Egypt and the southern Levant in 969–975. The Kutama remained one of the mainstays of the Fatimid army until well into the 11th century.

Levantine Arabic

Levantine Arabic (Arabic: اللَّهْجَةُ الشَّامِيَّة‎, ʾal-lahǧatu š-šāmiyyah, autonym: il-lahje š-šāmiyye) is a broad variety of Arabic and the main vernacular spoken Arabic of the eastern coastal strip of the Levantine Sea that includes parts of Lebanon, Jordan, Syria, Palestine, Israel, and Turkey. With numerous dialects and over 30 million native speakers worldwide, it is considered one of the five major varieties of Arabic. In the frame of the general diglossia status of the Arab world, Levantine Arabic is used for daily spoken use, while most of the written and official documents and media use Modern Standard Arabic.

Levantine archaeology

Levantine archaeology is the archaeological study of the Levant. It is also known as Syro-Palestinian archaeology or Palestinian archaeology (particularly when the area of inquiry centers on ancient Palestine). Current archaeological digs are carried out by the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA), or else the Palestinian Authority's (PA) Ministry of Tourism and Antiquity, working under the auspices of the IAA. Besides its importance to the discipline of Biblical archaeology, the Levant is highly important when forming an understanding of the history of the earliest peoples of the Stone Age. The Palestinian Authority prohibits unrestricted excavation at sites of archaeological importance.

Levantine pottery

Pottery and ceramics have been produced in the Levant since prehistoric times.

Near Eastern archaeology

Near Eastern archaeology is a regional branch of the wider, global discipline of archaeology. It refers generally to the excavation and study of artifacts and material culture of the Near East from antiquity to the recent past.

Nonferrous archaeometallurgy of the Southern Levant

Nonferrous Archaeometallurgy in the Southern Levant refers to the archaeological study of non-Iron-related metal technology in the region of the Southern Levant during the Chalcolithic period and Bronze Age from approximately 4500BC to 1000BC.

Prehistory of the Levant

The prehistory of the Levant includes the various cultural changes that occurred, as revealed by archaeological evidence, prior to recorded traditions in the area of the Levant. Archaeological evidence suggests that Homo sapiens and other hominid species originated in Africa (see hominid dispersal) and that one of the routes taken to colonize Eurasia was through the Sinai desert and the Levant, which means that this is one of the most important and most occupied locations in the history of earth.

Not only have many cultures and traditions of humans lived here, but also many species of the genus Homo. In addition, this region is one of the centers for the development of agriculture.


Proto-Arabic is the name given to the hypothetical reconstructed ancestor of all the varieties of Arabic attested since the 9th century BC. There are two lines of evidence to reconstruct proto-Arabic:

Evidence of Arabic becomes more frequent in the 2nd century BC, with the documentation of Arabic names in the Nabataean script as well as evidence of an Arabic substratum in the Nabataean language.The Safaitic and Hismaic inscriptions were composed between the 1st century BC and the 4th century AD, in the basalt desert of the northwest Arabian Peninsula and the Southern Levant. They are also crucial to the reconstruction of Proto-Arabic, since they show many features that are shared by epigraphic Old South Arabian and Classical Arabic. The common features set them apart from languages that are documented further south, such as Dadanitic and Taymanitic (see Characteristics below).Old Arabic in the Nabataean script is first attested in the Negev desert in the 1st century BC, but it becomes more frequent in the region after the decline of Safaitic and Hismaic. From the 4th century AD, Old Arabic inscriptions are attested from Northern Syria to the Hejaz, in a script that is intermediate between cursive Nabataean and the Kufic script of Islamic times.

The urheimat of Proto-Arabic can thus be regarded as the frontier between northwest Arabia and the southern Levant.

Southern Syria

Southern Syria (سوريا الجنوبية, Suriyya al-Janubiyya) is the southern part of the Syria region, roughly corresponding to the Southern Levant. Typically it refers chronologically and geographically to the southern part of Ottoman Syria provinces.The term was used in Arabic primarily from 1918-20, during the Arab Kingdom of Syria period. Zachary Foster in his Princeton doctoral dissertation has written that, in the decades prior to World War I, the term “Southern Syria” was the least frequently used out of ten different ways to describe the region of Palestine in Arabic, noting that “it took me nearly a decade to find a handful of references”.

Tell (archaeology)

In archaeology, a tell, or tel (derived from Arabic: تَل‎, tall or Hebrew: תל‎ tell, 'hill' or 'mound' ), is an artificial mound formed from the accumulated refuse of generations of people living on the same site for hundreds or thousands of years. A classic tell looks like a low, truncated cone with sloping sides and can be up to 30 metres high.Tells are most commonly associated with the archaeology of the ancient Near East, but they are also found elsewhere, such as Central Asia, Eastern Europe, West Africa and Greece. Within the Near East, they are concentrated in less arid regions, including Upper Mesopotamia, the Southern Levant, Anatolia and Iran, which had more continuous settlement.

Time periods in the Palestine region

Time periods in the region of Palestine summarizes the major time periods in the history of the region of Palestine/Land of Israel, and notes the major events in each time period.

Tower of Jericho

The Tower of Jericho is an 8.5-metre-tall (28 ft) stone structure, built in the Pre-Pottery Neolithic A period around 8000 BCE. It is among the earliest stone monuments of humanity.The Wall of Jericho was discovered by John Garstang during the excavations of 1930 to 1936, which he suggested were those described in the Book of Joshua in the Bible and dated to around 1400 BCE. Kathleen Kenyon discovered the tower built against the wall inside the town during excavations between 1952 and 1958, in trench I. Kenyon provided evidence that both constructions dated much earlier, to the Neolithic, which is the latest part of the Stone Age, and were part of an early proto-city. The tower highlights the importance of Jericho for the understanding of settlement patterns in the Sultanian period in the southern Levant.

Transjordan (region)

Transjordan, the East Bank, or the Transjordanian Highlands (Arabic: شرق الأردن‎), is the part of the Southern Levant east of the Jordan River, mostly contained in present-day Jordan.

The region, known as Transjordan, was controlled by numerous powers throughout history. During the early modern era, the region of Transjordan was included under jurisdiction of Ottoman Syrian provinces. After the Great Arab Revolt against Ottoman rule, the Emirate of Transjordan was established in 1921 by Hashemite Emir Abdullah, and the Emirate became a British protectorate. In 1946, the Emirate achieved independence from the British and in 1952 the country changed its name to the "Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan".

Zahrat adh-Dhraʻ 2

Zahrat adh-Dhraʻ 2 or ZAD 2 is an early Neolithic archeological site 1 mile (1.6 km) north of the village of edh-Dhra on the Lisan Peninsula, in modern-day Jordan.

The site is a low, small tell mound, located in what is now an arid region that would have been far more hospitable during the settlement's occupation. It sits at an altitude of 650 feet (200 m) below sea level. Excavations were carried out to a depth of 1.5 metres (4.9 ft) in 1999 by Phillip C. Edwards of La Trobe University. Several rounded stone buildings were found with plaster floors although lime-firing pyrotechnology was probably not used in their preparation. Archaeobotanical studies suggested that cultivation of wild crops was likely to have occurred on site. A large number of flint tools were found including sickles, picks, axes, drills, arrowheads and scrapers made from local flint sources. A few examples of stone tools made from other materials such as quartz, obsidian and quartzite were discovered. Other discoveries included a ceramic figure, greenstone, some copper ore and two incised fragments of burnt limestone showing geometric designs suggesting early Neolithic use of art and symbols. Radiocarbon dates for the site range between 9140 and 8470 BC. This has suggested occupation during the Pre-Pottery Neolithic A and possibly during the transitional phase into the Pre-Pottery Neolithic B between 8800 and 8600 BC that was identified in 2002 by Danielle Stordeur and Frédéric Abbès.

Ghattas Jeries Sayej analyzed the lithic assemblage from the site providing comparison with other sites in the southern Levant. He found little discernible difference between the Khiamian and Sultanian assemblages and argued for an extension of the PPNA and later start of the PPNB in the southern Levant around 9200 BP.

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