Civilizations of Canaan
The Late Canaanite (Bronze) Age 1,550–1,200 BCE
Through much of the late Canaanite (Bronze) Age (1,550–1,200 BCE) Canaan was subjected to Egyptian rule. The exhibits from this period include numerous imported luxury goods – made of pottery, metals, precious stones and ivory – from Egypt, Greece, Cyprus, Syria, Anatolia, and Mesopotamia. These were found throughout the country in tombs, temples, and palaces. All this glitter once induced scholars to see the Late Bronze Age as a period of great prosperity. But there is another aspect to this period; the number of settlements decreased markedly and rural settlements are rare, indicating that a large section of the population had reverted to nomadism once again. It seems quite clear that while the elite class had access to wealth, and while international trade was extensive, the majority of the population was disenfranchised and poor. The maaterial evidence points to the influence of Egyptian rulers. The anthropomorphic coffins and exquisite jewelry and metal vessels from Deir el-Balah, an Egyptian settlement uncovered beneath the dunes of the Gaza Strip, are a prominent expression of Egyptian influence and presence in Canaan. By this stage the earliest Semitic alphabet had been invented, probably in Sinai (the origins of this alphabet are dealt with in the separate Pavilion of Hebrew Script and Inscriptions described below). Glass began to appear in larger quantities and in more complex forms.