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date: 25 February 2021

Abstract and Keywords

This article describes the languages and the people in the Levant in the Bronze and Iron Ages. During the Bronze Age the largest part of the population were Semitic-speaking peoples who came in waves to Syria-Palestine from about 3000 BCE onwards and whoformed an area of interrelated cultures. Following the population movements and the resulting power vacuum of the Early Iron Age, various local languages of the Syro-Palestinian city-states and tribal societies were promoted to chancellery idioms. Several forms of language contact, both natural and controlled, caused linguistic innovations to spread across the speech area from the centre to its periphery. Thus, the Iron Age languages of Syria-Palestine share a number of important features that clearly distinguish their grammatical structure from the one of their second-millennium ancestors.

Keywords: Levant, Bronze Age, Iron Age, Semitic-speaking peoples, Syria-Palestine, population movements, language contact, linguistic innovations

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