Similarly to Cimmerians / Scythians / Sarmatians / Alans situation, I don’t think we should necessarily try to represent all of these cultures but perceive these as a continuation and evolution of an ethno-cultural complex. For instance, as mentioned before, Canaanites are often used as a name for the bronze-age Phoenician culture, since the distinction between other groups in that time is minimal. With this foreword, lets start:
- Canaanites / Israelites / Mobaite / Edomite etc.: All of those are just Canaanites, which include Phoenicians. Israelites are well-known, but their historical influence in this period is barely insignificant, they spend most of their time being conquered, rather than conquering or influencing other polities. If we didn’t have Bible and other preserved texts, we wouldn’t be able to separate them from other Canaanite cultures. So I am strongly against including Israelites, or a bunch of other insignificant states, as this can get out of hand very quickly. We would have to represent every single horse nomad as these had much more significant influence on the region, and there were a LOT of horse nomads.
That said, while indistinguishable in the bronze-age, the Phoenicians did create a different sea-faring culture in the iron-age, which many inland-living Canaanites didn’t participate. So I am not against creating a less sea-faring Canaanites nation to represent all the Cannaanite-speaking people who are not Phoenicians.
- Akkadians, Amorites, and Kassites: These are different people with significant influence, but a major part of their influence is connected with Assyrians and Babylonians. So I am kind of undecided if they should be represented.
Starting with Akkadeans, Sargon the Great created one of the first major empires, and Akkadian language became lingua-franca for Assyrians and Babylonians. Note that Sumerians are completely unrelated and are completely different beast.
Amorites were nomadic pastoralist/farmers who expanded during the period of drought when Akkadian and Sumerian cities shrank, as intensive-agriculture was less suitable in this time compared to non-intensive pastoralism. They were perceived as barbarians, but later settled and formed a bunch of powerful cities, such as an important city-state Mari, but also Babylon (which adopted Akkadian culture?).
Kassite history is similar. Originally they were scattered semi-nomadic people who were often hired as mercenaries by Sumerians and especially Babylonians. But they were able to centralize, grow powerful, and form an empire for 500 years ruling from Babylon after ousting out native dynasty and conquering many other Akkadian and Summerian cities.
All of these people are significantly more influential than some other we have represented, or which people want to represent, where popular knowledge, recency bias, and the fact that we have written records from popular nations, make these less-important people significantly more well-known. For instance, Palmyrene Empire existed only for 13 years. Historically unimportant short-lived Roman breakaway state popular only because they wrecked Roman army once.
Sea people: Not a single nation, rather collection of states. Sea people are basically “raiders” that came by sea. Collection of sea-people could be easily represented by Greeks, Phoenicians, Celts, Hatti, Phrygians, and Lydians, depending on the requirement.
Hyksos: Canaanite people who managed to conquer Egypt for a while, and bring some inventions there. So Phoenicnas / Canaanite (if we decide to represent them), or just absorb their influence to Egypt. Which we did, sis Egypt got Chariots.
Arameans: Influential people, their language became lingua-franca in the Neo-Assyrian empire. as well as the wider area of Mesopotamia and Near East. But the way this was achieved was being conquered by Assyrians, resettled all around the Assyrian empire, and then somehow becoming the dominant language. So I don’t think they deserve a representations.
Arabs or one of their forms: I am for it. Arabs were one of the pastoralists who expanded when lands were depopulated by war or from drought, and formed important groups (often as arab-aramean mix), especially later. I wouldn’t include any late-antiquity arabs, rather some of their earlier or proto-form. They were also matri-local or had some form of matridominance, with women having important positions and ruling queens being quite common. Which was of a deep interest by many neighbouring nations, such as the Assyrians, who wrote about this. Nabateans might be interesting choice? We have written records about them from Assyrians, but they existed later as well to fight with Romans.
Lagids/Ptolemies: If we have late-antiquity DLC, we could take all diadochi. Otherwise lets just say that they are a late-form of Egypt. We could really use another “Age” in the stone-tool-bronze-iron, so that we could move cav to Iron, heavy cav to Antiquity, and not have bronze-age cavalry sooner than we can make chariots, makes no historical sense.
TLDR: Canaanites (non-seafaring Canaanites), Nabateans (some form of Arabs/Arameans), and if you really push me for anything else, then Akkadians, Amorites and Kassites, but I am happy to not represent them as they already have some form of representation with Assyria/Babylonia (Akkadians), Babylonia (Amorites) and Babylonia (Kassites).