THE EARLIEST INHABITANTS
FOR the earliest period of the history of Syria and Palestine, as for many of the later periods, there are no native sources of information. Venerable as are the traditions preserved in the Old Testament Scriptures, they do not reach back farther than the time of the Patriarchs; and, in the light of recent archæological research, this is comparatively modern history. Systematic excavations, such as have been carried on for years in Egypt and in Assyria, have never been undertaken in Syria or in Palestine, and the few explorations that have been made have yielded no inscriptions that throw light on their early history. They are divided by geographical configuration into small isolated districts, in which petty independent states have arisen, but no great nations with stable civilizations. Where such nations do not exist, there is no motive for the erection of historical monuments.
But, although these lands have had no independent political development, they have been the channel