* Jewish Ancient History: Canan

Jewish Ancient History: Canan

Figure 1.--Early Cananites were a relatively primitive people, lacking writing. Thus the first written records and images of these people comes from the Egyptians and Assyrians. Here is an Egyptian depiction of Canaanites from an Egyptian tomb dated 1877 BC. Notice the beards and their coloful woolen garments--many Canaanites were nomadic herders. The Egyptians were general clean shaven and wore white linnen. It would be the Canaaites, however, that would create the first alphabet, based on Egyptian hieroglyphs.

The Canaanites are a kind of ethnic catch-all term covering many indigenous populations, both settled and nomadic-pastoral groups. They are the people who populated the southern Levant or Canaan--the Jewish promised land. Canaanite is by far the most frequently used ethnic term in the Bible. The central message of the Bible is that the Hebrews are an invading people to whom God granted Canaan as the Promised Land. Some scholars see this a Jewish mythology without historical basis except as justification for the conquet of Canan. The Hebrews were one of the competing Canaanite tribes or perhaps an amalgum of Canaatie groups. The Canaanites are often largely ignored in ancient histories which focus on great civilization, ujsually monumental builders, like Egypt, the Sumerians, Babylonians, Assyrians, Hittities, Persinas, and others. Canan was commoinly the battle griound where northern people of the Fertile Cressent fought it out with thr Egyptians. One of the first battles recorded in detail was fought there--Kadesh (1274 BC). The Canaanites were not great builders . They were not a might warrior people, but rather relatively primitive tribes, many nomadic herders, caught between the mighty empires of Egypt and Mesopotamia. Yet it is now believed that it was the Canaanites who made the most important invention of humanity--the invention of nothing less than the modern Alphabet. Unlike writing, this appears to have occured once and in only one place. Canaanites who spoke a Semitic language (Proto-Semitic) were working for Egyptian miners. They apparently repurposed Egyptian hieroglyphs to construct a different simpler alphabetic script. [Albright] This script has been found in a small corpus of inscription at Serabit el-Khadim in the Sinai Peninsula dating to the Middle Bronze Age (2100–1500 BC). The Egyptians were mining turquoise, a highly prised blue-green mineral nd used by their artisans and used in stunning creations. The alphabet was not just a minor change in the historian of writing. It was the crucial step in making the written word accessable to mankiknd. Hieroglyphs was writing, but it was complicated anf required years of study to master. An alphbetic writing system is by its very nayure was simple and easy to learn. And it was adaptable to other languages, unlike cuneiform or hieroglyphics. An alphabetic script was so simple that it could be mastered by virtually any one includung children beginning about the age of 6 years. It was nothing less tha the democritization of writing. And it isd fascinating that it was the work of the Canaanites not one of the great ancient civilizations. What is interesting here is that the NAZIs claimed that the Jews in particular and the Semetic people in generakl were not capable of creating great culture, but were destroyers of culture. We now know that it was Semetic people who invented mankind's greatest achievement -- the alphabet. And it was spread by a Canaanite people--the Phoenicians. And the Hebrews were involved on this proces. The Phoenician language and alphsbet is closelky related to Hebrew. It is also interesting that one of the Canaanite tribes the Hebrews gave rise to Judaism and the Jews. Jews are the modern people most associated with learning and education than any other people.


Albright, William F. The Proto-Sinaitic Inscriptions and their Decipherment (1966).


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Created: 2:14 AM 9/26/2020
Last updated: 2:14 AM 9/26/2020