Richard Nowitz

For more than 3,000 years, the farmers of Israel’s central hill country have employed agricultural terracing, a technique particularly efficient in the region’s rocky, sloping soil. The tiers of flat earthen terraces supported by stone retaining walls were well suited for small-scale farming and cereal production. But terracing was not common in the area until Iron Age I (1200–1000 B.C.E.), suggesting that the existing Canaanite population was not familiar with the technique but that the new inhabitants—the Israelites—were. Terracing is just one of several technologies introduced into the central hill country during this time, a strong indicator of the presence of new people in the area, writes Dever.