The first archaeological evidence suggesting the emergence of the Israelites as a distinct people dates back to the 12th Century BCE.
- 1209-1208 BCE – The Merneptah Stele, an inscription dated to the 12th century BCE, is believed to feature the earliest mention of a people called “Israel.” Scholars estimate the geographic location of Merneptah’s “Israel” to Central Canaan, or possibly the Jezreel Valley.
- 1150 BCE – Evidence of Israelite culture appears in archaeological remains. Notable markers include the absence of pork bones, distinctive pottery, and four-room houses in communities across canaan. At this time, the Israelites are believed to have lived in small villages led by local tribal leaders.