The Ancient World from A to Z
Agriculture and Animals
Crop NOTES Animal NOTES
Barley -prehistoric Birds,Tame India 3000
Berries <15000 BC. Birds,Wild <15000 BC.
Beans -prehistoric Camels Ur 2000 BC.
Cotton -India 3000 BC. Cattle Europe 8500 BC.
Fruit <15000 BC. Dogs -prehistoric
Grapes <15000 BC. Donkeys Egypt 3000 BC.
Leeks & Onions Fish all ~10000 BC.
Lentils & Peas Honeybees Egypt,Canaan
Nuts & Berries <15000 BC.Horses <2000BC.
Olive Oil & Olives Locusts Eaten - Africa
Sycamore Figs Pigs -Many diseases
Wheat & Rye 9000 BC. Sheep/Goats -11000 BC.
Men have farmed in the Mideast since 9000 BC. Egyptians had candy made out of honey and dates since 3500 BC. See WEATHER AND WATER for the conditions crops grew in.
Men used bows and arrows since 2500 BC. The Egyptians excelled in archery. They also made the best chariots, which they learned from the Hyksos. The Iranian invaders all used horses and chariots, which caught the Sumerian and other native peoples flat-footed, so to speak.
Curved swords, spears, and daggers were main offensive weaponry. Large square shields were used by the Egyptians. Small round shields, or no shields were used by most others. Most soldiers had leather helmets and usually no armor.
The Egyptians drew pictures of their enemies on the bottom of their sandals. That way they could step on their enemies all the time.
The Midianites were among the first to use camels, which were effective because horses are usually afraid of camels.
Most weapons were made of bronze, see METAL to read of the importance of bronze.
Cities and Fortifications
While Ur, Abraham's hometown, had an estimated 180,000 people, the largest city in Canaan, Hazor, had at the most 40,000. The Canaanite cities were heavily fortified since they fought with each other often. Some cities, like Jericho, had a double city wall, and a high tower, or citadel. Most cities were built on hills, and they had a rampart, or an incline leading up to the wall so that attackers could not use battering rams against the walls. The most critical part of the defense was the water supply. Without some well or spring inside the city, it would not last long. Of all the cities in Canaan, the most difficult city to capture was probably Jerusalem. It was never successfully captured until David did so. See POPULATION for the number of people living in the lands.
From these dates, see if you can guess when
the Exodus took place, and when Joshua entered
the promised land around 46 years later.
2300 BC. Jericho & Et-tell destroyed.
2010 BC. Abraham moves from Ur to Canaan.
Dates are +/- 60 years here.
2006 BC. Ur destroyed by Elamites.
1700-1550 BC. Hyksos control most of Egypt.
1700-1300 BC. Large asiatic pop. in N.Egypt.
1650 BC. Shechem destroyed.
1500 BC. Debir, Hazor, Jericho, Lachish, Shar-
uhen, and Shechem destroyed by Egypt.
1479-1425 BC. Thutmose III Pharoah of Egypt.
There is some evidence that his oldest
17 Military Campaigns.
1450 BC. Egypt took Canaan from the Hittites
1400-1300 BC. Egyptians record that nomads
"Habiru" running amok in Canaan.
1400 BC. Jericho and Hazor destroyed. (No evi-
dence found of Ai.)
1300 BC. Hazor destroyed.
1290-1224 BC. Rameses II Pharoah of Egypt.
He was Egypt's greatest builder.
He even forged his name on the Luxor
Temple, which he did not build but
only expanded. He had ~200 children.
1298 BC. Rameses II conquers Phoenicia
Dates are +/- 10 years here.
1285 BC. Egyptians & Hittites battle at Qadesh
1280 BC. Askelon sacked by Egyptians.
1250-1200 BC. Hazor, Debir, Lachish, Bethel,
Libnah burned and Eglon sacked.
1220 BC. Egypt defeats Libya in battle.
1200 BC. Philistines arrive in Canaan in force
1150 BC. Philistines sacked Sidon.
1051 BC. Saul begins his reign.
See VASSALS AND OVERLORDS for who ruled who.
Boys (not girls) went to school from dawn to dinner. They were taught reading, writing, and arithmetic. Egypt and Babylon had the highest educational standards, though other lands had almost as high. Writing was 1,500 years old in Moses' day and even slaves in Egypt could likely read. 40,000 clay tablets have been unearthed in just two large Middle East cities. In contrast, nomads had little education.
Vowels were spoken but not commonly written. Most languages had no j, v, or ch sounds. However, they had an aspiration mark that English and Chinese do not have. See NUMBERS for more on what was taught.
Furniture and Houses
People in Jericho used lamps since 8000 BC. People had no mattresses but did have wicker and wood furniture.
Wouldn't it be great not to have housework, pay the electric, gas or water bills, or pay a house mortgage? -- Perhaps not. Imagine living in a house with no electricity, water, heating, or air-conditioning. Today we live better than even kings in their palaces. The common people could not take a shower, though they could go outside to the spring and go swimming. Most houses were made out of mud & brick. There was not much point in sweeping the floor; it was made out of dirt too. Though some Egyptian and Hittite royalty had plumbing, Canaanite kings did not. See CITIES AND FORTIFICATIONS for the cities people livied in.
Girls and boys played many of the same games they play today (Nintendo excepted). Archaeologists first find evidence of games around 5000 B.C. Babies had rattles and clay horses. Boys had clay men to play army with. Older children juggled, had board games, including backgammon and a form of chess, dancing, casting sticks, tug-of-war, and races. They had dice back then, but the dice usually only had 4 numbers. 1,000 years or so after Joshua the Greeks started the Olympics. NBC & CBS TV did not cover it on TV though. Read EDUCATION to see what kids had to learn.
Scholars disagree over the date of the Exodus and Joshua's invasion about 46 years later. Most of the evidence supports the Early theory.
------------ "Early Exodus" Theory ------------
Held by G.L. Archer, J. Davis, NIV Study Bible,
M. Unger, B.K. Waltke, J.F. Walvoord, L. Wood
1446 BC. The Exodus
1400 BC. Joshua enters Canaan
1375 BC. Start of Judges
1209 BC. Deborah
1051 BC. Saul
1 Kings 6:1 dates the conquest around ~1400 BC.
Egyptian records imply the army was destroyed ~1477 B.C.
------------ "Late Exodus" Theory -------------
W.F. Albright, R.K. Harrison, K.A. Kitchen, N.
Glueck, New Bible Commentary, G.E. Wright
1280 BC. The Exodus
1234 BC. Joshua enters Canaan
1220 BC. Start of Judges
1125 BC. Deborah
1051 BC. Saul
Ruth 4:21 and Matt 1:4-6 show that Joshua was
only 4-5 generations before David unless father
here has the less common meaning of ancestor.
See DATING to support both theories. Note
that the book of Joshua does not say any cities
were burned except Hazor, Jericho, and Ai.
Idols and Sacrifices
People Idols Infant Sacrifice
Ammonites Molech & Others Often
Caananites Various Baals & Others Often
Egyptians Isis, Osiris, + 2,000 Others no
Hittites Storm & sun gods & Others no
Moabites Chemosh and Others Yes
Philistines Dagon and various Baals Some
Phoenicians Baal, Astaroth, and Others Rare
Modern Man Self Abortion
The Old Testament commanded that Israelites who worshipped idols or sacrificed infants must be executed. We cannot look down on these idolators too much though, for abortions today are a more painful way for babies to die than being burned to death. See KIDS AND FAMILY for more.
Jewelry and Fashion
Necklaces, bracelets, and earrings often adorned women. Midianite men wore earrings also. Perfume was common for women, and expensive, fragrant-smelling frankincense and myrrh were used by the wealthy of both sexes.
Both men and women wore their hair long, except in Egypt. Men had beards, and women and sometimes men pleated their hair (Samson did). The Egyptian men however, shaved their heads. It was not until Roman times that men started wearing short hair. See FURNITURE AND HOUSES for more on how people lived.
Kids and Family
Children were viewed very differently by the Canaanites and the Hebrews, and both cultures viewed kids differently from today.
Children today are expensive. Parents spend money on food, clothing, doctors, and college. In ancient times little kids worked for their parents. When the children grew up, they fed and cared for their parents in old age. Even though people knew they could not live on earth forever, parents knew that part of them might live forever -- through their children.
The Canaanites believed that to be a good religious person, you must sacrifice something very important to you -- your firstborn child. In contrast, God teaches that infant sacrifice is detestable sin against Him, and children are a precious gift from God to be cherished. See GAMES for what kids and adults played.
Laws and Covenants
Covenants and Treaties in early times had the following form:
Preamble (who the parties are)
Past History (previous relations)
Terms (in detail)
Where a Copy is Deposited (often on stone)
Witnesses (usually gods)
Curses (if broken)
Blessings (if kept)
The Sinai Covenant (~1446 - 1326 BC.) follows this model, except that curses and blessings are reversed. Hammurabi's Code was written 1700 BC., and it was actually only "amendments" to a previous code. It emphasized "an eye for an eye". The Hittite Law Codes, written about the
same time, emphasized compensation. See IDOLS AND SACRIFICES for the religions their morality was based on.
A tremendous change took place in the world about 2000-1800 BC. People learned how to mix copper and tin to form bronze. Bronze was wonderful, because it was the first common metal that would hold a sharp edge. With it you could farm the land with a bronze-tipped plow, not just wood. Bronze swords and spear tips were superior to copper, wood, and flint weapons. The only thing better than bronze was a very precious metal called iron. Hittites were among the first to use it. From them the Philistines probably learned how to make iron cheaply in 1200 BC. Jabin King of Hazor had 900 iron chariots, and iron-tipped weapons were an "edge" Assyrians had over their enemies. See TRADE AND COMMERCE for other important trade items.
The Israelites as well as everyone but the Babylonians all used the decimal system. Back then, letters were used for numbers. For example, in English A=1, B=2, etc. There was no way to write numbers until about 600 BC. Arithmetic is essential for trade. Long before Abraham, people could add, subtract, multiply, and do simple geometry. Later, Babylonians could even solve equations like x2 - 3x + 2 = 0 and a few cubic equations. Strangely enough, people never thought about "nothing", that is, a zero yet. Since math was only used for trade, counting, and building, people then probably thought they had overlooked nothing. See POPULATION (ISRAELITE MEN) for exact counts of Israelites.
Origins of the Peoples
Anakites - (Raphaim) from Hebron.
Amalekites - from Esau and the Edomites.
Arameans - Some were Abraham's relatives.
Babylonians - They were Amorites.
Ammonites - from Lot, Abraham's nephew plus
intermarriage with natives.
Canaanites - possibly from Arabia.
Edomites - through Esau from Abraham of Ur
plus intermarriage with Hittites
and other natives.
Egyptians - a merging of 2 peoples 3000 BC.
Gibeonites - primarily Indo-European Hittites.
Hittites - perhaps from central Europe.
Hivites - probably Hittites from Asia Minor
Horites - probably related to the Hurrians.
Ishmaelites - from Hagar & Abraham of Ur plus
intermarriage with Egyptians.
Israelites - through Jacob from Abraham of Ur
plus some intermarriage with Ara-
means and Egyptians.
Kenites - from Midianites from Abraham.
They were allies of the Israel.
Midianites - from Keturah & Abraham of Ur.
Moabites - from Lot, Abraham's nephew. plus
intermarriage with native.
Philistines - possibly from Crete or Greece.
Phoenicians - directly after the flood?
Sumerians of Ur - Nobody can tell.
Jebusites, Girgasites, Kenizzites, Amorites - ?
See eXtinctions of Peoples for their fate.
Population 1400 BC.
REGION (MILLIONS) UNCERTAINTY CULTURE
World 101 +/- 30% Neol/Bronze
AFRICA 9 +/- 30% Neol/Bronze
Egypt & Cush 4.5 +/- 12% Late Bronze
AMERICAS 2 +/- 50% Paleolithic
ASIA,RUSSIA,OCEANIA 76 +/- 30% Neol/Bronze
China -PRC+Taiwan 32 +/- 30% Late Bronze
Indian Subcont. 12 +/- 30% Late Bronze
Middle East 21.4 +/- 20% Late Bronze
Canaan 1.77 +/- 15% Late Bronze
Phoenicia 0.33 +/- 20% Late Bronze
Transjordan 0.65 +/- 20% Late Bronze
Israelites 2.45 +/- 8% Late Bronze
EUROPE 14 +/- 30% Late Bronze
Greeks & Minoans 4.3 +/- 15% Late Bronze
Old Israel 1400 BC. 2.6 +/- 15% Late Bronze
Old Israel -David 2.15 +/- 8% Early Iron
Modern Israel 1400 BC. 1.90 +/- 15% Late Bronze
Modern Israel 1990 AD. 4.0 +/- 2% Computer
World 1990 AD. 5,320 +/- 9%Neol/Computer
Roughly 25% of a population are men over 20 years old who are able to be soldiers. Read ORIGINS OF PEOPLES to see where they came from.
Population (Israelite men)
MEN IN INTO EGYPT FIRST % ANNUAL SECOND %OF
TRIBE>=20 (ALL MEN) CENSUS INCREASE CENSUS SUB
Asher 7 41,500 2.03 53,400 8.9
Benjamin 1 35,400 2.45 45,600 7.6
Dan 2 62,700 2.42 64,400 10.7
Ephraim 1.5 40,500 2.39 32,500 5.4
Gad 8 45,650 2.02 40,500 6.7
Issachar 5 54,400 2.17 64,300 10.7
Judah 6 74,600 2.21 76,500 12.7
Manasseh 1.5 32,200 2.33 52,700 8.8
Naphtali 5 53,400 2.18 45,400 7.5
Reuben 5 46,500 2.14 43,730 7.3
Simeon 7 59,300 2.11 22,200 3.7
Zebulun 4 57,400 2.24 60,500 10.1
SUBTOTAL+Jacob 54 603,550 2.18 601,730 100
Levites>1 mnth 4 22,000 2.01 23,000
TOTAL 58 625,550 2.17 624,730
If the average age was 20, there were 2.45 million Israelites. Read AGRICULTURE AND ANIMALS to see their diet.
Quotes in Ancient Writings
Stone Tablets discovered at Tell-el-amarna in Egypt were letters from the Canaanite cities to the Egyptians. They mention migrant peoples, "Habiru", who are overrunning everything. On one hand names have been found that match, such as Yapi (Japhia), a king, Benenima (Benjamin?), and Yashuya (Joshua?). On the other hand, other peoples besides the Israelites were called Habiru, & other names of kings of Canaanite cities do not match those given in Joshua. Some scholars say that since kings often reigned briefly, the kings' names would not necessarily match. Other scholars think that the Habiru here were not Hebrews at all but another invading people. An Egyptian Temple in Thebes 1220 BC. contains the earliest unambiguous reference to Israel instead of Canaan. "Israel is laid waste". In 1200 BC. Hazor asked Egypt for military aid. See HISTORY for two theories of the Exodus based partly on these quotes.
An unusual people called Raphaim, or Anakim, lived in the southwest corner of Canaan. They were the largest people who ever lived. Goliath was descended from them. How tall were they? Bones have been reported of persons 10 & a 1/2 feet tall! However, not only did Israel defeat them, but Edom defeated them too. They were mighty warriors, but a large army could defeat a small group of Rephaim. Arrows and spears do not care how tall someone is. See BATTLE WEAPONS for how ancient weapons were used.
Ships & Ports
Egyptians did not sail much on the Sea, but even in 3000 BC. boats often sailed the Nile River. When the sail was down, the boat would drift north with the current. When the sail was up, the boat would sail south with the wind. Canaan has only one navigable river. There was almost no shipping in Canaan because there is only one natural port, Jaffa, south of Mount Carmel. North of Carmel there were numerous ports, and the Phoenicians who lived there were among the world's best mariners. See YARN & TEXTILES for the phoenicians' other major source of income.
Trade & Commerce
Arabia - Spices, Incense, Resins, Gold
Babylon - Grain, Cloth, Fish: Need lumber
Britain - Tin
Canaan - Pottery, Wool, grain, oil, Wine
Cush - Granite, Gold, Ivory, Resins
Cyprus - Copper
Egypt - Glass, Linen, Grain, Horses, Papy-
rus, Slaves, perfume; Need Oil,
Wine, Wood, Copper
Europe - Copper, Tin, Bronze, Amber, Pot-
tery, Shells, Need Grain
Hittites - Iron, Wool, Copper
Phoenicia - Dye, Cloth, Glass, Ceramic, Cedar
lumber: Need Grain, Oil, Wine
In the extremely dry desert environment, anointing one's body with oil regularly was almost as essential as eating & drinking. Even in Abraham's time items from Asia Minor have been found in Cush and vice versa. By Joshua's time, the New Bible Commentary in discussing ancient trade compares Egypt and Phoenicia to modern USA and Japan. See SHIPPING AND PORTS for the major traders.
Urim & Thummim
The Urim and Thummim were unknown objects on the breastplate of the Israelite high priest. The high priest used those to ask questions of God. We do not know exactly what they were, but the Jewish historian Josephus claimed they were twelve stones inlaid on the breastplate that lit up as God revealed answers. See QUOTES IN ANCIENT WRITINGS for extra-biblical references to the Israelites.
Vassals & Overlords
In Abraham's time, the Hittites controlled northern Canaan, and southern Canaan was under Egyptian vassalage. After 1450 BC. Egypt seized all of Canaan. When Joshua died, the Isrealites occupied the hill country but did not possess all the plains until centuries later. The Midianites were vassals of the Amorite king Sihon. See LAWS AND TREATIES on how these arrangements
were written up.
Weather & Water
The average rainfall in Canaan is 30 to 35 inches per year along the coast and hill country. It was 20 to 25 inches per year along the area of the Sea of Galilee and Dead Sea, and less than that eastward in the desert.
In summer, the temperature varies from 80 to 105 degrees F in the lowlands, and 65 to 85 degrees F in the mountains. Winter is about 30 degrees colder. Snow is not too common in winter, except in the hill country. There is always snow on Mount Carmel. Canaan has two seasons. The dry season lasts from May to October, and the wet season is from October to May. Most crops are planted in the fall & harvested in the spring. In summer there is no rain at all, and most rivers dry up. Thus grapes and melons were an important source of water in summer.
The "season" for warfare was during harvest. Then invading armies could live off the land. See ZODIAC for how people knew when to plant.
eXtinctions of Peoples
PEOPLE DATE EXTINCT OR ASSIMILATED
Amalekites - 700 BC. (by Israelites) Ex 17:14
Ammonites - 200 BC. (Maccabees conquered)
Anakites - 1000 BC. (by Israelites)
Babylonians - 539 BC. (by Medes & Persians)
Canaanites - 200 BC. (merged with Phoenician)
Edomites - 200 BC. (Maccabees & Nabataeans)
Hittites - 720 BC. (by Assyrians)
Kenites - 721 BC. (by Assyrians)
Medes - 550 BC. Assimiliated by Persians
Midianites - Assimilated into Arabs
Moabites - 200 BC. (Maccabees conquered)
Northern Israelites - 721 BC. (by Assyrians)
Philistines - 975 BC. (by Israelites)
Phoenicians - 200 BC. (by Romans)
Sumerians - (merged with Babylonians)
See REPHAIM for a most unusual extinct people.
Yarn & Textiles
Cotton, linen, leather, sheep and goat wool were worn in ancient times. Red was somewhat of a luxurious color. However, one of the most expensive luxuries was purple cloth. Special purple dye, later called "Tyrian Purple", was made from seashells of a mollusc called "murex" that lives on the coast of Phoenicia. In Roman times, only Roman emperors wore purple. See JEWELRY AND FASHION for more on what was worn.
People looked at the stars for four reasons: Stars are simply beautiful. In Egypt and other lands, the seasonal rotation of the sky told farmers exactly when to plant. Astologers tried to use the stars to predict the future. Finally the stars and planets were worshipped.
The evil practices of astrology and star worship came from the Sumerians, and Israelites who did either one were killed for their sin. Read URIM AND THUMMIM for one way God's people knew what to do.
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by Steven M. Morrison, PhD.