Wednesday, 5 October 2016

Ancient Canaan, Levant

Canaan is often refereed to as the "Natufian" culture, which was an Epipaleolithic culture of Africans who migrated into the area thousands of year earlier.
The Natufian existed from 13,000 to 9,800 years ago, it was unusual in that it was sedentary, or semi-sedentary, before the introduction of agriculture. The Natufian communities are possibly the ancestors of the builders of the first Neolithic settlements of the region, which may have been the earliest in the world.

There is some evidence for the deliberate cultivation of cereals, specifically rye, by the Natufian culture. Generally though, Natufians made use of wild cereals, hunted animals like gazelles, and fished. The term "Natufian" was coined by Dorothy Garrod (1892-1968) who studied the Shuqba cave in Wadi an-Natuf, Palestinian Territories.

Ancient Canaan was probably the first place, outside of Africa, where ancient man first became "settled" (Agricultural). Archeological excavations have shown evidence of human habitation in Canaan, from Paleolithic and Mesolithic times.

At the site of the ancient city of Jericho, evidence reveals a settled community and an agricultural way of life had existed there, since about 9,000 B.C. By about 7000 B.C. Jericho had developed into a large settlement which may have contained as many as two thousand individuals, and was defended by a substantial wall.

The dead were often buried beneath the floors of houses. In some instances the bodies were complete, but in others the skull was removed and treated separately, with the facial features reconstructed in plaster.
Canaan Skull
  The removal of the skull from the body and its separate burial was widely practised in the Levant during the seventh millennium B.C. the skull was remodelled with plaster to build up the facial features.

Shells, either cowries or bivalves, were set into the empty sockets to represent the eyes. The skull was decorated with red and black paint to depict individual characteristics such as hair and even moustaches. It is possible that this practice was part of an ancestor cult. Similarly plastered skulls have been found at sites in Palestine, Syria and Jordan.

By about 4,000 B.C, there existed small settlements of farming people who built mud-brick houses and some underground dwellings. In the Early Bronze Age, the inhabitants of Canaan, built the first walled towns. These towns were small with walls of rough stones or unbaked mud brick.

The town were surrounded by peasant farmers growing a range of local horticultural products, along with commercial growing of olives, grapes for wine, and pistachios, surrounded by extensive grain cropping, predominantly wheat and barley. Harvest in early summer was a season when transhumance nomadism was practiced — shepherds staying with their flocks during the wet season and returning to graze them on the harvested stubble, closer to water supplies in the summer.
Canaan Skull

As time progressed, the fortifications in these early towns grew more complex. By the end of the Early Bronze Age, some towns were surrounded by double and triple walls, for defense. Families lived within these city walls, in houses clustered around courtyards. The existence of these heavily fortified city walls, is evidence that this was not a peaceful period. Evidence seems to indicate that they buried their dead in stone dolmens. By the Middle Bronze Age (2,000 B.C.) Canaan was an Egyptian province, but there was apparently great wealth and strong self-government for each individual city-state.

The wealthy aristocratic rulers embellished their cities with large-scale, public buildings, temples and palaces. They also decorated their palaces and temples with beautiful wall paintings. Their pottery was now elaborate in style, and beautifully painted or sculptured. They also smelted copper.
Later, town planning was also in effect, evidenced by paved streets that were built in a grid pattern. Cities were now surrounded by huge fortifications, with ramparts built to defend against battering rams. By now people buried their dead with elaborate rituals, in caves, with several generations of family members placed in the same tomb. Rich goods were found with these burials, including pottery vessels, wooden containers, weapons, tools and jewelry. The Levant refers to the area which includes modern Lebanon, Israel, Palestine, Syria, Jordan and northern Arabia.
Shepard King Apepy

Apepa probably had the longest reign of all Hyksos kings. His personal name Apepy (Greek: Apopis) was obviously taken from the Egyptian god Apep and his throne name means - "Great and Powerful Like Re". He's believed to have been a well educated ruler who got into a war he was strongly opposed to.

He probably triggered it himself by sending a provocative letter (now in British Museum) where he addresses the Egyptian king Tao II in Thebes with a complaint that was really odd. He wrote that he couldn't sleep at night because he was disturbed by the snoring and roaring of king Tao's hippopotami in Thebes 800 km to the south!.

Soon after this message, king Tao is believed to have taken up arms against him and thereby the war of liberation was started. It's quite possible that his power at this late state of his reign had been going over to others, and the letter was a product of their will, and not his own. Manetho (by Flavius) gives him a 36 yearlong reign and scholars of today up to 42 years to around 1600-1559 B.C.

The Hyksos statues above, was identified as Hyksos statues by the eminent Fran├žois Auguste Ferdinand Mariette (1821 – 1881) French scholar, Archaeologist, Egyptologist, and the founder of the Egyptian Museum in Cairo.



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