The ancient period of Palestine is as fascinating as it is historic. In fact, the earliest humans remains were found in Ubeidiya – some three kilometers south of the Sea of Galilee. These remains are said to be dated c. 1.5 million years ago — during the Ice Age. It is also important to note that the region even saw the earliest migrants from Africa. These, of course, were Homo erectus species — or humans that were able to stand upright. During the Proto-Canaanite Period, the region was synonymous with rugged terrain and small hills. There were mountains that surrounded the trees and — what would eventually become –villages.
The first pre-historic dig in Palestine dates back to 1925. This was in the area of Wadi El Amud between the Sea of Galilee and Safed. This is where the discovery of the Palestinian Man in the Zuttiyeh Cave took place. This means there was human development in the region — and in fact, Homo sapien fossils were found in rock shelters near Nazareth and further South. This was part of the paleoanthropological site dig that took place during the mid-20s as well. Studies of these fossils show a time period of 90 — 100,000 years ago — with indications of tribal and ritual behaviors. This meant that the earliest settlers in the area were significantly intelligent and cunning.
Mount Carmel is also a historic area in the region. In fact, Palestinians herald the area for Cave of Kebara. This ancient site was also home to human settlers during 60,000 — 48,000 BP. The Tabun Cave was even occupied by tribes during the Lower and Middle Ages — 40,000 — 500,000 years ago. The area is also known as the Levant, which means an area or region made up of inter-related tribes and peoples. For example: the Middle East is a Levant since it contains Iraq, Iran, Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, and other Arab nations. Ancient Palestinians also lived in the area of Es Skhul for a long period of time. This was also the place for the earliest human burial cemeteries, along with ground stone tools found during many archaeological digs.
Ancient Palestinian land included the Shuqba Caves in Ramallah. The latter, of course, is a holy area situated in the modern-day West Bank. Similarly, Wadi Khareitun near Bethlehem was a haven for stone, wood and animal bone tools. These were directly related to the Natufian culture, and other remains of ancient tribes have been found in Jericho, Beidha, Ein Mallaha and Tel Abu Hureura. Some of the first settlements were also found near Tel es-Sultan in Jericho. This included a religious shrine, along with a long staircase and several walls. Evidence shows that these settlements date back to 9,000 BCE — along with Gaza, Sinai and other areas that were inhabited by Ancient Palestinians. It is important to know, however, that the Sinai establishments were comprised of peoples that originated from Egypt and Syria.
By the Bronze Age (2200-3000 BCE), new migrant groups had entered the region. This was mainly due to the demand for urban fabrics and textiles. There were several Canaanite city-states form in the plains and coastal regions as well. This included mud-brick homes, along with defensive walls and farms. Irrigation ditches were also built to secure some of the earliest farming and plant cropping in the region. The Canaanite city-states traded — and had diplomatic relations –with Syria and Egypt. There was also an influx of nomads and wanderers into the region by 2,300 BCE. These Bedouins mainly came from east of the Jordan River and upper desert areas.
Ancient Palestinians were heavily influenced by surrounding civilizations. This includes Egypt, along with Syria, Crete, Phoenicia and Ancient Mesopotamia (Iraq). In fact, the Palestinians learned about agriculture and pottery making from their neighbors. Similarly, they taught their neighbors how to harvest crops — especially fruits and vegetables. A true delight in the region back then were grapes and olives — which grew naturally on trees across ancient Palestinian lands.