Canaan is an ancient region in the middle east. The “Land of Canaan” covers modern Israel, Lebanon, Syria, and more. This ancient civilization was known to the Egyptians and Mesopotamians, and have been mentioned in the Christian Bible.

According to the Bible, Canaan, son of Ham, was cursed by his grandfather Noah. He set off to found a brave new world. Canaanites are thought to be descended from him.

Several Canaanite sites have been found and excavated. Much of our understanding of Canaanite civilization have come from these excavations, most notably the town of Ugarit.

The first references to Canaan occur in the third millennium B.C. A Sumerian document from the 18th century B.C. mentions “thieves and Canaanites” causing trouble in the town of Rahisum. Mesopotamian tablets referred to the reddish-purple dye of the murex shellfish as “Canaan”, much as the modern “champagne” is both a drink and a region of France. The Pharaoh Akhenaton refers to the Canaanites in a number of letters.

The Canaanites profited from nearby civilizations of ancient Egypt, Mesopotamia, and Minoan Creek. Along the coast, merchant princes developed city states while treating their wares with other civilizations. In the interior, small kingdoms relied on agriculture.

In this area, periods of rapid climate change affected the trade routes. As trade dwindled, cities and towns collapsed. Once the climate stabilized, trade resumed first along the coast, and then inland. Traders sought new routes to avoid heavy taxation.

Trade brought prosperity, and that brought the attention of the Syrians, Babylonians, Persians, ancient Greeks, Romans, and more. Each would try to dominate the Canaanites politically, imposing taxes and tributes.

Map of Canaan