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Corporate Strategy as an Art (XIV): The Bronze Age-The land of Canaan.

Hi to all of you. Let´s continue exploring the art of the Middle East during the Bronze Age. Today it is the turn of the land of Canaan. It is not possible to leave it out of this saga during the Bronze Age period. Let´s see why.

Canaan map Bronze Age

Land of Canaan Map Bronze Age. Source:

Let´s put some boundaries to the stage of history and the land that we are going to analyze today. Please remember, we are not going to do any type of value judgment in relation to the eternal conflict between Palestine and Israel. The bronze age at the land of Canaan relates to the time of history where this region was portentously taken by several tribes and civilizations. We are going to explore the period between 3,000 BCE up to around 1,000 BCE (the beginning of the Iron Age which matches with the time of the appearance of the Israelites in the region). This land known as Canaan was situated in the territory of the southern Levant, which today encompasses Israel, the West Bank and Gaza, Jordan, and the southern portions of Syria and Lebanon.

During the bronze age, let´s think of the Canaan as the land, in between two strong empires (mainly): Egypt and the Mesopotamian region empires. During the Early Bronze Age, by the 3,000 BCE  “A major trade route connecting Mesopotamia with Egypt (later known as the King’s Highway) ran south from Damascus through the Jordan valley. Cities started to flourish, in this route. Trade helped to it. In any event, urban civilization began to flourish here not long after it had begun in Egypt”. Watch the following video done by Babak, which I find it very illustrative to situate you in the context of this article.

After watching it, what do you think? What are the feelings that come up into you when you see this latter video? Personally, I feel sorry for this land. This place has always been in conflict since the beginning of the Bronze Age. It seems to me that any civilization which is a corridor in between two empires gets trapped in the middle of the conflict. And in consequence when countries are in war and conflict, little we can see from them in terms of their original art expressions. I just imagine the tensions between all these kingdoms and the arising control of Canaan, which was invaded frequently from the north, from the south, from the east and the west. As Doctor David Neiman has said it: “When tensions or revolts and war take place, the canon of art is broken”. There is no consistency in any of the expressions or remains which could be found by archaeologists. Sometimes these artistic vestiges are destroyed completely. The bronze age remains of the land of Canaan shows us a distinctive and authentic mess.  Just imagine the following metaphor, as when you are watching a Ping-Pong battle. The land of Canaan was like the little Ping-Pong ball, constantly being hit by two or more contenders, and during this game of more than 2,000 years, the remains of art that we can find are not consistent in terms of a unique identity. And whatever we may find could link us towards any of the Mesopotamian empires or to Egypt. Sometimes it links us to the Hittites or the Hyksos or the Amorites or the Phoenicians or the Philistines. And, the Old Testament of the Bible provides us information in relation to the land of Canaan as the promised land of Abraham. We observe a close link between Egypt, Mesopotamia, and the Israelites.

canaan near-east-bronze-age-weapons-paul-d-stewart

Canaan Wall Art – Photograph – Near East Bronze Age Weapons by Paul D Stewart

In order to understand the corporate strategy of this land, we must situate in the middle of their political and economic unsteadiness by not having a stable territory of peace. There is an article written by Joshua Mark (Mr. Mark, thank you for such beautiful effort at the site which I would like you to read by clicking this link please: Ancient Canaan. After reading Joshua’s article, let´s proceed to presuppose the following insights (please read the article of Mr. Joshua Mark, otherwise you won´t understand anything below):

General Strategic Insights:

  • The land of Canaan was strategically located to facilitate trade. And the control of the region was always a pivot for numerous foreign powers during the whole Bronze Age period.
  • The land of Canaan was a series of ports to the Mediterranean Sea for those who did not have a seashore to this ocean. Particularly for the kingdoms located in the Mesopotamia region, this was a door to the sea, key for trade and commerce. All the civilizations from the Bronze Age were united by commerce. What Mesopotamia did not have, Egypt had it. What Cyprus had, Egypt did not have it.
  • The land of Canaan was a corridor of logistics. And the nature of this land was conflictive.
    Canaan Jaffa-Thebes-Limestone-Relief

    Jaffa Thebes Limestone Relief.

    And all these successive invasions from powerful kingdoms and tribes, seem to me were a method to capture the link between Asia and Africa-European civilizations. The Canaan seashore was enough motivation to control an important hub of commerce with the rest of the countries. Egypt expanded its kingdom towards Canaan repeatedly during different stages of the Bronze Era.

  • We can´t speak about the Canaanites per se as a whole unit. But as fragmented units. The Canaanites were a group of tribes or cultures which lived in this corridor (north or south of it) in different periods of the Bronze Age. Phoenicians, Philistines, Amorites, Hyksos, etc. Under the rule of Egypt, Canaan cities were always a merchant colony of economic prosperity.
  • Written documents matter: “Egyptian power in Canaan was later contested as major states arose in northern Syria: first the Mitanni and then the Hittites. However, the dynamic pharaohs of New Kingdom Egypt successfully asserted their dominance in the area. Thereafter, apart from launching punitive campaigns from time to time to keep the petty Canaanite kings in line, the Egyptians adopted an “indirect rule” policy, using (semi-)loyal chiefs of tribes and rulers of city-states to protect their interests. The Armarna letters, a royal archive of Egypt containing over 350 diplomatic letters between the Egyptian king and foreign rulers, make clear that, to the many petty chiefs and kings of Canaan, the Pharaoh of Egypt was their overlord. These small states were constantly quarreling amongst themselves, appealing to their Egyptian government to settle their disputes”. Source: Matthew A. McIntosh Brewminate Editor-in-Chief
  • Location means everything: Several times in the past I have remarked the importance of location for trade. A good location means everything in business. Just look at the business model of Their core business is logistics, and they know how important is the location to be effective and to reduce costs! There is always a place to keep and transport things after these are manufactured.
  • Many historians relate the ancient Canaanites before Israel as the Phoenicians, others relate the ancient Canaanites as the Philistines.

    But in reality, both (Phoenicians and Philistines) were part of the whole Canaan territory at one stage of the Bronze Age. The ultimate collapse of the Egyptian domination in this region occurred about 1,175 BCE at the hands of the Sea Peoples (best known as the Philistines). After Egypt lost its dominating position in Canaan, the northern Canaanite cities such as Byblos, Tyre and Sidon succeeded as active centers of maritime trade in the region. These cities became known to history as the Phoenicians. To their south, a group of the Sea Peoples after destroying the Canaanite existing cities, settle this area. These were the Philistines, and their five coastal cities, Gaza, Ashkelon, Ashkelon, Ekron and Gath, were to form a confederacy in the area. As a result, the whole area of the south became known as the land of the Philistines. The name Palestine is derived from the name Philistine.

  • Take in mind that the Phoenicians emerged only around 1,500 BCE (it coincides with the Late Bronze Age-1,600 to 1,200 BCE). It is approximately at the end of this time that the Israelites appeared on the map of the land of Canaan.
  • The corporate strategy of the rulers of the land of turmoil, Canaan, during the Bronze Era cannot be understood as a smooth or congruent.
    canaan ishtar

    ISHTAR~ 2nd Middle Bronze Age Gold pendant motif of the Canaanites goddess Ishtar the goddess of love. 2200-1550 BC

    Each group probably had a different corporate strategy. When in times of domination from Egypt, the strategy was to survive and produce to tribute to them.

  • The architecture tells us a lot about the way of thinking of the rulers of a land. High fortresses and strong walls only show us that the main cities of Canaan during the Bronze Age were built to defend themselves from war and conflicts. A wall is always a sign of protection from the outside, a fortification wall is built in case of massive disruptions caused externally. What is clear to me is that the Canaan main cities were prepared to defend themselves. The Genesis, Exodus, and the first books of the Bible describe battles, war episodes, and revolts. Numerous small kingdoms appeared in this land and fell under the dominance of Egypt during the early 2nd millennium BCE.
  • In times of survival mode, the corporate strategy that we can perceive through their artistic expressions is limited, sometimes non-existent. When a country is a slave of another one, the only strategy available is to resist and plan an escape for freedom. Nothing matters more than liberty. Little we can think of other types of corporate strategy as expansion, growth, or stability. Probably the retrenchment strategy was the most utilized by the original inhabitants of this land.
  • Finally, all these insights are based on my personal appreciation or perception after reading some history and after looking at the internet for art remains from the Land of Canaan. But archaeologists are my best reality check into this land because I have no other evidence than what I found. The Anatolia region (where now is Turkey) is pending. I will try to make it before passing to the Iron Age.

This is it. We will continue next week with the Americas during the Bronze Age. Thank you so much.


Source References utilized to write this article:

Disclaimer: All the presentation slides shown on this blog are prepared by Eleonora Escalante MBA-MEng. Nevertheless, all the pictures or videos shown on this blog are not mine.  I do not own any of the lovely photos or images posted unless otherwise stated. 




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