Middle Eastern History
Expand your knowledge of Middle Eastern history, beginning with some of the world’s earliest civilizations, the development of three of the world’s primary monotheistic religions, the establishment of Islamic empires, and the internal conflicts that have been the hallmark of the region since the break-up of the Ottoman Empire after World War I.
One of the earliest world civilizations is the Sumerian civilization, which began in Mesopotamia (the land between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers) around 3000 BCE. The Sumerians are credited with many innovations, including the invention of the wheel, large-scale irrigation, and the development of cuneiform. Other famous empires from ancient times include those of the Babylonians, the Hittites, and the Assyrians, each of which arose as the previous empire was conquered.
In the sixth century BCE, the Persian Empire began a period of expansion to become the largest empire in the world, stretching from northwestern India to Thrace. In the first century BCE, however, the region of the Middle East would come under the influence of two foreign empires: the Macedonian Empire, followed by the Roman Empire. During the Roman period, followers of the Jewish prophet Jesus Christ established the religion that would be known as Christianity in the area of present-day Israel, which was also the birthplace of the more ancient religion of Judaism. The new religion quickly spread through the region as persecution disseminated its adherents.