Signs of the Israelites? Small agricultural villages—about 300 of them—sprang up throughout the central hill country of Canaan during the late 13th to 11th century B.C.E. The villages were new (few, if any, were founded on the ruins of earlier sites) and were located in sparsely populated areas removed from Canaanite urban centers. The population boom that filled these villages over the course of 200 years points to more than natural increase—people must have migrated to these settlements with the intent of occupying and populating them: A scenario, writes William Dever, that accords well with Biblical accounts of the emergence of the ancient Israelites in the central hill country of Canaan.