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Other terms for the same area include Canaan, Zion, the Land of Israel, Southern Syria, Jund Filastin, Outremer, and the Holy Land.

The Palestine region or parts of it have been controlled by numerous different peoples and regional powers, including the Canaanites, Amorites, Ancient Egyptians, Israelites, Moabites, Ammonites, Tjeker, Philistines, Assyrians, Babylonians, Persians, ancient Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, different dynasties of the Early Muslim period (Umayads, Abbasids, Seljuqs, Fatimids), Crusaders, Late Muslim dynasties (Ayyubids, Mamluks, Ottoman Turks), the British, Jordanians (1948–1967, on the "West Bank") and Egyptians (in Gaza), and modern Israelis and Palestinians.

In 691, the Dome of the Rock became the world's first great work of Islamic architecture. From 878 Palestine was ruled from Egypt by semi-autonomous rulers for almost a century, beginning with Ahmad ibn Tulun, and ending with the Ikhshidid rulers who were both buried in Jerusalem.

Over these centuries many heretical Christians had converted to Islam. In 1073 Palestine was captured by the Great Seljuq Empire, only to be recaptured by the Fatimids in 1098, who then lost the region to the Crusaders in 1099.

In the 330s BCE, Alexander the Great conquered the area now called Palestine, and the region changed hands numerous times during the wars of the Diadochi, ultimately joining the Seleucid Empire between 219 and 200 BCE.

In 116 BCE, a Seleucid civil war resulted in the independence of certain regions including the minor Hasmonean principality in the Judean Mountains.

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