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The oldest fossils of anatomically modern humans found outside Africa are the Skhul and Qafzeh hominins, who lived in the area that is now northern Israel 120,000 years ago.
Modern archaeology has largely discarded the historicity of the narrative in the Torah concerning the patriarchs, The Exodus, and the conquest described in the Book of Joshua, and instead views the narrative as constituting the Israelites' inspiring national myth.
Jacob and his sons had lived in Canaan but were forced by famine to go into Egypt for four generations, lasting 430 years, led the Israelites back into Canaan during the "Exodus".
The earliest known archaeological artifact to mention the word "Israel" as a collective is the Merneptah Stele of ancient Egypt (dated to the late 13th century BCE).
The Mamluk Sultanate of Egypt extended its control over the Levant in the 13th century until its defeat by the Ottoman Empire in 1517.
During the 19th century, national awakening among Jews led to the establishment of the Zionist movement in the diaspora followed by waves of immigration to Ottoman and later British Palestine.
With successive Persian rule, the autonomous province Yehud Medinata was gradually developing back into urban society, largely dominated by Judeans.
The conflict erupted in 167 BCE with the Maccabean Revolt, which succeeded in establishing an independent Hasmonean Kingdom in Judah, which later expanded over much of modern Israel, as the Seleucids gradually lost control in the region.The area is also known as the Holy Land, being holy for all Abrahamic religions including Judaism, Christianity, Islam and the Bahá'í Faith.From 1920, the whole region was known as Palestine (under British Mandate) Other notable Paleolithic sites include caves Tabun, Qesem and Manot.In its Basic Laws, Israel defines itself as a Jewish and democratic state.Jacob's twelve sons became the ancestors of the Israelites, also known as the Twelve Tribes of Israel or Children of Israel.