POI.ITICAL GEOGRAPHY ANLI HISTORY. The early history of Palestine, to the sixteenth cen tury c.c., is exceedingly obscure. From the rec ords of the Egyptians we learn that it was a part of the land of the Amu (Southwestern Asia), ear lier called by the same people Latan or Ruten. The term Khan, was a designation for Southern Palestine, A nior or Amur for the northern dis trict and the Lebanon region. The earliest Baby lonian records appear to have included the coun try under the term Martu, or the west land, which later gave way to Amur, or the land of the Auto rites. While Egyptian forces may have made oc casional incursions into Palestine earlier than the sixteenth century B.C., the ilmninant power in Southwestern Asia at this early period was Babylonian. This supremacy gave way to the so called Amoritic, i.e. the incoming of great num bers of Semites (q.v.) from the Arabian deserts. These either absorbed or exterminated the older population, and. being of the same general Semit ic stock as the Babylonians, readily learned and adopted their culture. so that the civilization of Babylonia continued dominant. Egyptian in scriptions show that this people prospered in Palestine and engaged in commerce with Egypt.
Egyptian overlordship over Palestine was fully established by Thothmes HI. (c. 1515-1485 it.c.t, who defeated a great confederacy in which Northern Palestine was involved, near Megiddo, in the Plain of Esdraelon. His famous list of 119 subjugated towns includes names of many places in Palestine. He organized the conquered territory, established a number of fortresses, filled them with Egyptian garrisons, and ap pointed governors to look after his interests. The Tell el-Amarna letters (see AMARNA. LET TERS) show that the common name of the land was Canaan (see CANAAN ; CANAANITES), and that the language of the people was simply an earlier form or dialect of that known later as Hebrew. spoken not only by Israel, but by the Phoenicians, the Moabites, and the Edomites. They show further that under the weak rule of Amenophis IV. Palestine was rapidly passing away from Egyptian control. The Hittites
(q.v.) from the north, and the `KhabirP (thought by some to be the Hebrews, and, at any rate, a part of the great Antillean movement to which the Israelites belonged) in the central and southern regions, were seeking to gain pos sessi9n. The Egyptian governors were plotting one against the other, all meanwhile writing to Egypt for aid and loudly protesting their indi vidual loyalty to their sovereign. This era of confusion was ended by the revival of Egyptian supremacy under the new (nineteenth) dynasty (c.1350 B.c.), whose kings, Seti 1. and Rameses II., rolled hack the Hittite advance and again reduced Palestine to complete submission to Egypt. The next Egyptian dynasty was weak and Palestine broke up into a number of petty kingdoms.
About this time (B.c. 1300-1100) two distinct peoples, of different origin and character, sought to make this country their home, viz. the tines (q.v.) and the Hebrews. The former be came the dominant people of the whole seacoast plain. The latter, after varied experiences. began a series of conquests which resulted finally in giving them control of Palestine.
The Canaanites appear to have been so dis organized that they offered little united opposi tion. Only one concerted action on their part is recorded, the confederacy of five kings in the region west of Jerusalem (Josh. x.). The work of conquest was long and gradual. At first the Israelites held but little more than the hills. The seacoast plain and the Plain of Esdraelon, defended by heavy armed troops with chariots, they avoided. Israel did not exterminate the Canaanites, except where the resistance was most stubborn. In general they simply reduced them to subjection, and in many cases probably the two peoples lived side by side on terms of equal ity. The old language of Canaan was used by the Isrtjelites. and with the adoption of the lan guage went the adoption of many Canaanitish ideas and customs, also the knowledge of the Babylonian culture then prevalent in the country.