Oh yes, Canaan is historically attested by all the folks of the area. The book treads a little lightly on what "Israelite" means, but the sense I get is that the Israelites are just another Canaanite tribe. The authors go through all of the typical archaeological evidence. The early towns and villages look just like the earl Canaanite towns and villages. The later larger cities are architecturally identical to Canaanite cities. The decorative motifs on pottery are identical to the motifs on Canaanite pottery. The difference seems to be geographical. The Canaanite towns and cities tend to be on the coastal plain, but the "Israelite" sites are invariably in the highlands.
There's a really fascinating chapter on what seems to be the first archaeologically attested actual major kingdom that also shows up in the Bible. It turns out that it's the kingdom founded in the 9th century BCE in the north, in Israel rather than Judah, by Omri and Ahab--Ahab is the guy who marries Jezebel. The Bible treats these folks as evil, and the book suggests that the reason for that is (1) that it is an Israelite rather than a Judahite kingdom that they found, whereas Josiah wants to assert the primacy of Judah and the theoretical superiority of the Davidic kings; and (2) the Omrite kingdom is not self-consciously exclusive of peoples who identify themselves as "Israelite." Jezebel herself is a Philistine, for instance, and yet Ahab marries her. So the Omrite kingdom is not just northern, but also inclusive rather than exclusive. From the point of view of Josiah, the authors say, both of those things have to be nipped in the bud. Another way of putting it is that the exclusivity of "Israel" as a nation is really a political move on the part of Josiah to cement his claims to political authenticity.
Let me say it again--a really interesting book!
Edited by yoyo52 (10/02/1308:15 PM)
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