Ancient peoples of the
Arabs are the most recent of all Semitic peoples according to their appearance in history. In fact, it is not possible to speak about Arabs in ancient times, but only about their ancestors.
Most of the
Since Arab nationalist and other biased movements claim an alleged historical right over the whole
In order to make this research more comprehensible, we can divide the Ancient Middle East into three main regions: 1) the "
Mesopotamia, Ararat, Syria-Canaan: This region was inhabited by Semitic and non-Semitic peoples.
Sumerians, Subarians and Hurrians: these non-Semitic peoples cannot be identified nowadays with any defined ethnic entity, but evolved into several different peoples. Most of them were displaced by the Assyrians and emigrated, contributing to the formation of other peoples in
Hittites and Canaanites: these peoples were originally non-Semitic but
The Canaanites were culturally conquered by the Arameans, adopting their Semitic language and therefore are generally regarded as a Semitic people. They developed in two different areas: the "coastland Canaanites" are best known in history as Phoenicians, the "mountain Canaanites" were assimilated by the Israelites and disappeared as an identifiable people around the 8th century b.c.e. -- when the Assyrians took the Hebrews into exile they did not make any difference because the Canaanites were already Israelites. Canaanites were NOT Arabs.
Today the ancient Canaanites are represented by two nations: the Phoenicians are Lebanese, while the Yevusites, Hivvites, Amorites and other mountain tribes are now Jews.
Philistines: the Philistines were not Semitic peoples, and unlike the Canaanites, they were not autochthonous but a confederation of invaders from the
Akkadians, Assyrians and Arameans: These are the only peoples in this region that were fully and originally Semitic. The term Akkadians refers to the early historic period of the peoples that later were identified as Hebrews in
The Assyrians became Christians in the first century c.e. and did never accept Islam, so they have been persecuted and the largest majority of them are still in exile, though there has been a permanent Assyrian presence in the area. They speak their own ancient language and their homeland is until now usurped by an Arab entity called
The Arameans are the only of these peoples that have in some way been related to the original Arabs, as they have intermarried and mixed with the Nabatean tribes, becoming the present-day Syrians, that are the most Semitic of all Arabs. Therefore, even though the ancient Arameans cannot be regarded as Arabs, they are among the ancestors of the northernmost branch of the Arabs, namely, the Syrians.
The ancient Egyptians were a Hamitic people and even though they have been in some way involved with the origin of the Ishmaelite Arabs, they remained a distinguishable people that has not been assimilated by the Arab invaders. The Egyptians became Christians in the first centuries c.e., and their genuine descendants are the Copts, who are not Arabs. Even though at present they are a minority in their own homeland, the Arab majority is anyway the result of a foreign invasion performed in the Middle Ages, when the Arabs made of
In the most ancient records the whole
Southern Arabian peoples:
- Seven Kushite peoples: Seba, Havilah, Sabtah, Ra'mah,
and Dedan. Sabtekha, Sheba
- Twelve Semitic tribes (Yoqtanites): Almodad, Shelef, Hatzarmawt, Yerah, Hadoram, Uzal, Diqlah, Obal, Abima'el,
, Hawilah and Yobab. Shaba
Northern Arabian peoples:
- Early Kushite population: Kûsh, Mušuri, Hawilah, Makkan.
- Eight Semitic tribes (Midyanites/Lihyanites): Zimran, Yoqshan,
, Midyan, Yishbaq, Medan and Dedan. Shuwah, Sheba
- Twelve Ishmaelite tribes: Nebayot, Qedar, Adbe'el, Mibsam, Mishma, Dumah,
, Hadar, Teyma, Yetur, Nafish and Qedmah. Massa
The characteristics of these peoples are exposed under the next title.