Palestine (Arabic: فلسطين Filasṭīn, Falasṭīn, Filisṭīn; Greek: Παλαιστίνη, Palaistinē; Latin: Palaestina; Hebrew: פלשתינה Palestina) is a conventional name, among others, for the geographic region in Western Asia between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River, and various adjoining lands. The name was used by Ancient Greek writers, and was later used for the Roman province Syria Palaestina, the Byzantine Palaestina Prima and the Umayyad and Abbasid province of Jund Filastin. The region is also known as the Land of Israel (Hebrew: ארץ־ישראל Eretz-Yisra'el), the Holy Land, the Southern Levant, Cisjordan, and historically has been known by other names including Canaan, Southern Syria and Jerusalem.
Situated at a strategic location between Egypt, Syria and Arabia, and the birthplace of Judaism and Christianity, the region has a long and tumultuous history as a crossroads for religion, culture, commerce, and politics. The region has been controlled by numerous different peoples, including Ancient Egyptians, Canaanites, Israelites, Assyrians, Babylonians, Persians, Ancient Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, the Sunni Arab Caliphates, the Shia Fatimid Caliphate, Crusaders, Ayyubids, Mameluks, Ottomans, the British and modern Israelis and Palestinians.
Boundaries of the region have changed throughout history, and were last defined in modern times by the Franco-British boundary agreement (1920) and the Transjordan memorandum of 16 September 1922, during the mandate period. Today, the region comprises the State of Israel and the Palestinian territories.
The term Peleset (transliterated from hieroglyphs as P-r-s-t) is found in numerous Egyptian documents referring to a neighboring people or land starting from c.1150 BCE during the Twentieth dynasty of Egypt. The first mention is thought to be in texts of the temple at Medinet Habu, which record a people called the Peleset among the Sea Peoples who invaded Egypt in Ramesses III's reign. The Assyrians called the same region Palashtu or Pilistu, beginning with Adad-nirari III in the Nimrud Slab in c.800 BCE through to emperor Sargon II, in his Annals approximately a century later.
The first clear use of the term Palestine to refer to the entire area between Phoenicia and Egypt was in 5th century BC Ancient Greece. Herodotus wrote of a 'district of Syria, called Palaistinê" in The Histories, the first historical work clearly defining the region, which included the Judean mountains and the Jordan Rift Valley. and formed part of the 5th Persian satrapy (νομός). Approximately a century later, Aristotle used a similar definition in Meteorology, writing "Again if, as is fabled, there is a lake (λίμνη) in Palestine, such that if you bind a man or beast and throw it in it floats and does not sink, this would bear out what we have said. They say that this lake is so bitter and salt that no fish live in it and that if you soak clothes in it and shake them it cleans them," understood by scholars to be a reference to the Dead Sea. Later writers such as Polemon, and Pausanias also used the term to refer to the same region. This usage was followed by Roman writers such as Ovid, Tibullus, Pomponius Mela, Pliny the Elder, Dio Chrysostom, Statius, Plutarch as well as Roman Judean writers Philo of Alexandria and Josephus. Other writers, such as Strabo, a prominent Roman-era geographer (although he wrote in Greek), referred to the region as Coele-Syria around 10–20 CE. The term was first used to denote an official province in c.135 CE, when the Roman authorities, following the suppression of the Bar Kokhba Revolt, combined Iudaea Province with Galilee and other surrounding cities such as Ashkelon to form "Syria Palaestina" (Syria Palaestina), which some scholars state was in order to complete the dissociation with Judaea.