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Ancient name for an area of shifting boundaries but centred on Palestine. Coastal Canaanite civilization dates to the Paleolithic Period; towns developed in Neolithic times (c. 7000–4000 BC). The name appears in writings from the 15th century BC. Invaded by the Hebrews (c. 1200 BC), who settled in southern areas, it was later invaded by the Philistines. In the 10th century BC the Israelites, under King David, broke Philistine power, and Canaan became thereafter the Land of Israel, the Promised Land of the biblical book of Exodus.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on Canaan, visit Britannica.com.