At very beginning of the 12th century B.C. - the beginning of the period archaeologists call Iron Age I - the Sea Peoples swept out of the Aegean to make their appearance in the archeological record and in ancient literary references. The Philistines ultimately settled on and dominated some of the choicest land in Canaan - the agriculturally rich coastal strip from Gaza in the south to Tell Qasile, near modern Tel Aviv, in the north - through which passed one of the world's most important international trade routes. Soon the Philistines began exerting pressure on the Israelite tribes farther inland. This conflict prompted the Israelites to form a monarchy in the mid - 11th century in order to meet the Philistine threat more effectively. After about 150 years of dominance in the area, the Philistines faded from the scene - overpowered by the Israelites under King David - and thereafter played only a minor role in events until, in about 600 B.C., they disappeared altogether.