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By E. B. Cook, W. R. Henry, C. A. Gilberg

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4. Egyptian Domination For about three centuries (c. 1460–c. 1170) Palestine was under the direct control of Egypt, though some degree of political (and cultural) influence existed before and afterwards. This long period of domination by a country whose ideological prestige was matched to a huge demographic, economic and military preponderance, naturally had a major impact on the political life of the region. This political imprinting of an imperial nature was probably as profound and significant as the more obvious influence of the geographical setting we considered earlier.

Their confederation was the Peleset, Zeker, Shekelesh, Denen and Weshesh lands united. They laid their hands upon the lands as far as the circuit of the earth, their hearts confident and trusting… (ANET, 262). The texts from Ugarit confirm this invasion, though they describe rather the periodical arrival of relatively small groups. ’ It is true, we have seen some ships, and you should strengthen your defences: where are your troops and chariots? Are they with you? And if not, who has pulled you away to chase the enemies?

The historical process has been reconstructed several times, and here it will be sufficient to recall the main theories suggested over the years. (1) The theory of a ‘military’ conquest, concentrated and destructive, inspired by the biblical account, is still asserted in some traditional circles (especially in United States and Israel), but today is considered marginal in scholarly discussion. (2) The idea of a progressive occupation, currently widespread in two variants that are more complementary than mutually exclusive: the settlement of pastoral groups already present in the area and infiltration from desert fringe zones.

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