Israel Finkelstein

Olive orchard on the terraced, western slope of the central hill-country. Although the cultivation of olives later became an important industry in ancient Israel, horticulture was apparently uncommon among the original Israelite settlers. Early Iron I settlement sites in the central hill-country are concentrated in areas most suitable for cereal crops and pasturage, rather than on land that favors raising fruit trees and vines. Such a distribution of settlements may suggest that the early Israelite settlers were flock-herding pastoralists who had only recently settled into a sedentary lifestyle, first raising grain and other agricultural crops and only later cultivating grape vines and olive trees.