Set in the ancient Middle (or Near) East, events in the Old Testament focussed around the ancient land of Canaan in Palestine. The Jordan River Valley served as a central artery through this mountainous land, from the Sea of Galilee in the north, to the Dead Sea in the south. Despite the region being a major trade route, the inhospitable landscape prevented any one nation from becoming dominant. Instead, numerous small herding communities lived across the plains in small, fortified cities, living off the land as farmers and worshipping various deities. These people were referred to as Canaanite and they spoke variations of what we know today as Hebrew and Arabic. Bible archaeology has sought to locate and verify the sites that are mentioned in the Old Testament; it is estimated that only a small fraction – just two percent – of surveyed sites have been excavated.
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