The ancient Near East
was the home of early civilizations
within a region
roughly corresponding to the modern Middle East
, southeast Turkey
, southwest Iran
, northeastern Syria
), ancient Egypt
, ancient Iran
and the Armenian Highlands
(Turkey's Eastern Anatolia Region
, northwestern Iran, southern Georgia
, and western Azerbaijan
, and Jordan
and the Arabian Peninsula
. The ancient Near East
is studied in the fields of Ancient Near East studies
, Near Eastern archaeology
and ancient history
During the period, states became increasingly large, until the region became controlled by militaristic empires that had conquered a number of different cultures.
The concept of the Near East
Overview map of the ancient Near East
The phrase "ancient Near East" denotes the 19th-century distinction between Near East
and Far East
as global regions of interest to the British Empire
. The distinction began during the Crimean War
. The last major exclusive partition of the east between these two terms was current in diplomacy in the late 19th century, with the Hamidian Massacres
of the Armenians
by the Ottoman Empire
in 1894–1896 and the First Sino-Japanese War
of 1894–1895. The two theatres were described by the statesmen and advisors of the British Empire
as "the Near East" and "the Far East". Shortly after, they were to share the stage with Middle East
, which came to prevail in the 20th century and continues in modern times.
As Near East
had meant the lands of the Ottoman Empire
at roughly its maximum extent, on the fall of that empire, the use of Near East in diplomacy was reduced significantly in favor of the Middle East. Meanwhile, the ancient Near East had become distinct. The Ottoman rule over the Near East ranged from Vienna
(to the north) to the tip of the Arabian Peninsula
(to the south), from Egypt (in the west) to the borders of Iraq (in the east). The 19th-century archaeologists added Iran to their definition, which was never under the Ottomans, but they excluded all of Europe and, generally, Egypt, which had parts in the empire.
Ancient Near East periodization
is the attempt to categorize or divide time into discrete named blocks, or eras, of the Near East. The result is a descriptive abstraction that provides a useful handle on Near East periods of time with relatively stable characteristics.
Early Bronze Age
Sumer and Akkad
Sumer, located in southern Mesopotamia, is the earliest known civilization
in the world. It lasted from the first settlement of Eridu
in the Ubaid period
(late 6th millennium BC) through the Uruk period
(4th millennium BC) and the Dynastic periods (3rd millennium BC) until the rise of Assyria
in the late 3rd millennium BC and early 2nd millennium BC respectively. The Akkadian Empire
, founded by Sargon the Great
, lasted from the 24th to the 21st century BC, and was regarded by many as the world's first empire. The Akkadians eventually fragmented into Assyria and Babylonia.
lay to the east of Sumer and Akkad
, in the far west and southwest of modern-day Iran
, stretching from the lowlands of Khuzestan
and Ilam Province
. In the Old Elamite period, c. 3200 BC, it consisted of kingdoms on the Iranian plateau
, centered on Anshan
, and from the mid-2nd millennium BC, it was centered on Susa
in the Khuzestan
lowlands. Elam was absorbed into the Assyrian Empire
in the 9th to 7th centuries BC; however, the civilization endured up until 539 BC when it was finally overrun by the IranianPersians
. The Proto-Elamite civilization
existed from c. 3200 BC to 2700 BC, when Susa, the later capital of the Elamites
, began to receive influence from the cultures of the Iranian plateau. In archaeological terms, this corresponds to the late Banesh
period. This civilization is recognized as the oldest in Iran and was largely contemporary with its neighbour, the Sumerian civilization. The Proto-Elamite script is an Early Bronze Age
writing system briefly in use for the ancient Elamite language
(which was a Language isolate
) before the introduction of Elamite Cuneiform
were a nomadic Semitic
people who occupied the country west of the Euphrates
from the second half of the 3rd millennium BC. In the earliest Sumerian sources, beginning about 2400 BC, the land of the Amorites ("the Mar.tu
land") is associated with the West, including Syria
, although their ultimate origin may have been Arabia
They ultimately settled in Mesopotamia, ruling Isin
, and later Babylon.
Middle Bronze Age
- Assyria, after enduring a short period of Mitanni domination, emerged as a great power from the accession of Ashur-uballit I in 1365 BC to the death of Tiglath-Pileser I in 1076 BC. Assyria rivaled Egypt during this period, and dominated much of the near east.
- Babylonia, founded as a state by Amorite tribes, found itself under the rule of Kassites for 435 years. The nation stagnated during the Kassite period, and Babylonia often found itself under Assyrian or Elamite domination.
- Canaan: Ugarit, Kadesh, Megiddo
- The Hittite Empire was founded some time after 2000 BC, and existed as a major power, dominating Asia Minor and the Levant until 1200 BC, when it was first overrun by the Phrygians, and then appropriated by Assyria.
Late Bronze Age
lived in northern Mesopotamia and areas to the immediate east and west, beginning approximately 2500 BC. They probably originated in the Caucasus
and entered from the north, but this is not certain. Their known homeland was centred on Subartu
, the Khabur River
valley, and later they established themselves as rulers of small kingdoms throughout northern Mesopotamia and Syria. The largest and most influential Hurrian nation was the kingdom of Mitanni
. The Hurrians played a substantial part in the history of the Hittites
was an ancient kingdom in Anatolia
. The name is first attested in the second millennium BC, and is also spelled Išuwa. In the classical period, the land was a part of Armenia
. Ishuwa was one of the places where agriculture developed very early on in the Neolithic
. Urban centres emerged in the upper Euphrates river valley around 3500 BC. The first states followed in the third millennium BC. The name Ishuwa is not known until the literate period of the second millennium BC. Few literate sources from within Ishuwa have been discovered and the primary source material comes from Hittite texts. To the west of Ishuwa lay the kingdom of the Hittites
, and this nation was an untrustworthy neighbour. The Hittite king Hattusili I
(c. 1600 BC) is reported to have marched his army across the Euphrates river and destroyed the cities there. This corresponds well with burnt destruction layers discovered by archaeologists at town sites in Ishuwa of roughly the same date. After the end of the Hittite empire in the early 12th century BC a new state emerged in Ishuwa. The city of Malatya
became the centre of one of the so-called Neo-Hittite
kingdom. The movement of nomadic people may have weakened the kingdom of Malatya before the final Assyrian invasion. The decline of the settlements and culture in Ishuwa from the 7th century BC until the Roman period was probably caused by this movement of people. The Armenians
later settled in the area since they were natives of the Armenian Plateau
and related to the earlier inhabitants of Ishuwa.
is an extinct language of the Anatolian branch
of the Indo-European language family
. Luwian speakers
gradually spread through Anatolia and became a contributing factor to the downfall, after c. 1180 BC, of the Hittite Empire, where it was already widely spoken. Luwian was also the language spoken in the Neo-Hittite states of Syria, such as Melid
, as well as in the central Anatolian kingdom of Tabal
that flourished around 900 BC. Luwian has been preserved in two forms, named after the writing systems used to represent them: Cuneiform
Luwian, and Hieroglyphic Luwian
was an ancient Sumerian and Amorite city, located 11 kilometres north-west of the modern town of Abu Kamal
on the western bank of Euphrates river, some 120 km southeast of Deir ez-Zor
, Syria. It is thought to have been inhabited since the 5th millennium BC, although it flourished from 2900 BC until 1759 BC, when it was sacked by Hammurabi
was a Hurrian
kingdom in northern Mesopotamia from c. 1500 BC, at the height of its power, during the 14th century BC, encompassing what is today southeastern Turkey, northern Syria and northern Iraq
(roughly corresponding to Kurdistan
), centred on the capital Washukanni
whose precise location has not yet been determined by archaeologists. The Mitanni kingdom is thought to have been a feudal state led by a warrior nobility of Indo-Aryan
descent, who invaded the Levant region at some point during the 17th century BC, their influence apparent in a linguistic superstratum
in Mitanni records. The spread to Syria of a distinct pottery type associated with the Kura-Araxes culture
has been connected with this movement, although its date is somewhat too early.Yamhad
was an ancient Amorite kingdom. A substantial Hurrian
population also settled in the kingdom, and the Hurrian culture influenced the area. The kingdom was powerful during the Middle Bronze Age
, c. 1800–1600 BC. Its biggest rival was Qatna
further south. Yamhad was finally destroyed by the Hittites in the 16th century BC.
were a Semitic (West Semitic language
group), semi-nomadic and pastoralist people who had lived in upper Mesopotamia and Syria
. Aramaeans have never had a unified empire; they were divided into independent kingdoms all across the Near East
. Yet to these Aramaeans befell the privilege of imposing their language and culture upon the entire Near East and beyond, fostered in part by the mass relocations enacted by successive empires, including the Assyrians and Babylonians
. Scholars even have used the term 'Aramaization' for the Assyro-Babylonian peoples' languages and cultures, that have become Aramaic-speaking.
Bronze Age collapse
The Bronze Age collapse
is the name given by those historians who see the transition from the Late Bronze Age
to the Early Iron Age
as violent, sudden and culturally disruptive, expressed by the collapse of palace economies
of the Aegean
and Anatolia, which were replaced after a hiatus by the isolated village cultures of the Dark Age period in history
of the ancient Middle East. Some have gone so far as to call the catalyst that ended the Bronze Age a "catastrophe".
The Bronze Age collapse may be seen in the context of a technological history that saw the slow, comparatively continuous spread of iron-working technology in the region, beginning with precocious iron-working in what is now Romania
in the 13th and 12th centuries.
The cultural collapse of the Mycenaean kingdoms
, the Hittite Empire in Anatolia and Syria, and the Egyptian Empire
in Syria and Palestine
, the scission of long-distance trade
contacts and sudden eclipse of literacy occurred between 1206 and 1150 BC. In the first phase of this period, almost every city between Troy
was violently destroyed, and often left unoccupied thereafter (for example, Hattusas
). The gradual end of the Dark Age
that ensued saw the rise of settled Neo-Hittite and Aramaean
kingdoms of the mid-10th century BC, and the rise of the Neo-Assyrian Empire
During the Early Iron Age, from 911 BC, the Neo-Assyrian Empire arose, vying with Babylonia and other lesser powers for dominance of the region, though not until the reforms of Tiglath-Pileser III
in the 8th century BC,
did it become a powerful and vast empire. In the Middle Assyrian period of the Late Bronze Age, Assyria had been a kingdom of northern Mesopotamia (modern-day northern Iraq
), competing for dominance with its southern Mesopotamian rival Babylonia. From 1365–1076 it had been a major imperial power, rivaling Egypt and the Hittite Empire. Beginning with the campaign of Adad-nirari II
, it became a vast empire, overthrowing 25th dynasty Egypt
and conquering Egypt, the Middle East, and large swaths of Asia Minor
, ancient Iran
, the Caucasus
and east Mediterranean. The Neo-Assyrian Empire succeeded the Middle Assyrian period
(14th to 10th century BC). Some scholars, such as Richard Nelson Frye
, regard the Neo-Assyrian Empire to be the first real empire in human history.
During this period, Aramaic
was also made an official language of the empire, alongside the Akkadian language
The states of the Neo-Hittite kingdoms
, Aramaic and Phoenician
-speaking political entities of Iron Age
northern Syria and southern Anatolia that arose following the collapse of the Hittite Empire around 1180 BC and lasted until roughly 700 BC. The term "Neo-Hittite" is sometimes reserved specifically for the Luwian-speaking principalities like Melid (Malatya
) and Karkamish (Carchemish
), although in a wider sense the broader cultural term "Syro-Hittite" is now applied to all the entities that arose in south-central Anatolia following the Hittite collapse – such as Tabal
– as well as those of northern and coastal Syria.
The term Neo-Babylonian Empire
refers to Babylonia under the rule of the 11th ("Chaldean") dynasty, from the revolt of Nabopolassar
in 623 BC until the invasion of Cyrus the Great
in 539 BC (Although the last ruler of Babylonia (Nabonidus
) was in fact from the Assyrian city of Harran and not Chaldean), notably including the reign of Nebuchadrezzar II
. Through the centuries of Assyrian domination, Babylonia enjoyed a prominent status, and revolted at the slightest indication that it did not. However, the Assyrians always managed to restore Babylonian loyalty, whether through the granting of increased privileges, or militarily. That finally changed in 627 BC with the death of the last strong Assyrian ruler, Ashurbanipal
, and Babylonia rebelled under Nabopolassar the Chaldean a few years later. In alliance with the Medes
was sacked in 612 and Harran
in 608 BC, and the seat of empire was again transferred to Babylonia. Subsequently, the Medes controlled much of the ancient Near East from their base in Ecbatana
, Iran), most notably most of what is now Turkey, Iran, Iraq, and the South Caucasus
Following the fall of the Medes, the Achaemenid Empire
was the first of the Persian Empires
to rule over most of the Near East and far beyond, and the second great Iranian
empire (after the Median Empire). At the height of its power, encompassing approximately 7.5 million square kilometers, the Achaemenid Empire was territorially the largest empire of classical antiquity
, and the first world empire. It spanned three continents (Europe
, Asia, and Africa), including apart from its core in modern-day Iran, the territories of modern Iraq, the Caucasus
(Armenia, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Dagestan
, Abkhazia), Asia Minor (Turkey), Thrace
, many of the Black Sea
coastal regions, northern Saudi Arabia
, Central Asia
, parts of Pakistan
, and all significant population centers of ancient Egypt as far west as Libya
It is noted in western history as the foe of the Greek city states
in the Greco-Persian Wars
, for freeing the Israelites
from their Babylonian captivity
, and for instituting Aramaic as the empire's official language.
Ancient civilizations in the Near East were deeply influenced by their spiritual
beliefs, which generally did not distinguish between heaven
They believed that divine
action influenced all mundane matters, and also believed in divination
(ability to predict the future). Omens
were often inscribed in ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia, as were records of major events.
- ^ Nemet-Nejat, Karen Rhea (1998). Daily Life In Ancient Mesopotamia. ISBN 9780313294976. Retrieved 28 February 2015.
- ^ "Armenian Highland". Encyclopædia Britannica. August 28, 2017.
- ^ Samuel Noah Kramer, History Begins at Sumer, (tr. Mendelson, F. A., Moscow, 1963).
- ^ Sumer and the Sumerians, by Harriet E. W. Crawford, p 69
- ^ Sumer and the Sumerians, by Harriet E. W. Crawford, p 75
- ^ "Amorite (people)". Encyclopædia Britannica. April 17, 2014.
- ^ James P. Mallory, "Kuro-Araxes Culture", Encyclopedia of Indo-European Culture, Fitzroy Dearborn, 1997.
- ^ Professor Simo Parpola, (University of Helsinki) (2004). "National and Ethnic Identity in the Neo-Assyrian Empire and Assyrian Identity in Post-Empire Times" (PDF). Journal of Assyrian Academic Studies. 18 (2): 9. Archived from the original (PDF) on July 17, 2011.
- ^ A convenient table of sea peoples in hieroglyphics, transliteration and English is given in the dissertation of Woodhuizen, 2006, who developed it from works of Kitchen cited there.
- ^ As noted by Gardiner V.1 p.196, other texts have ḫȝty.w "foreign-peoples"; both terms can refer to the concept of "foreigners" as well. Zangger in the external link below expresses a commonly held view that "sea peoples" does not translate this and other expressions but is an academic innovation. The Woudhuizen dissertation and the Morris paper identify Gaston Maspero as the first to use the term "peuples de la mer" in 1881.
- ^ Gardiner, Alan H. (1947). Ancient Egyptian Onomastica. 1. London: Oxford University Press. p. 196.
- ^ Manassa, Colleen (2003). The Great Karnak Inscription of Merneptah: Grand Strategy in the Thirteenth Century BC. New Haven: Yale Egyptological Seminar, Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations, Yale University. p. 55. ISBN 978-0-9740025-0-7.
- ^ Line 52. The inscription is shown in Manassa p.55 plate 12.
- ^ Several articles in Oren.
- ^ Drews, Robert (1995). The End of the Bronze Age: Changes in Warfare and the Catastrophe CA 1200 B.C. United States: Princeton University Press. p. 264. ISBN 978-0-691-02591-9.
- ^ See A. Stoia and the other essays in M.L. Stig Sørensen and R. Thomas, eds., The Bronze Age—Iron Age Transition in Europe (Oxford) 1989, and T.H. Wertime and J.D. Muhly, The Coming of the Age of Iron (New Haven) 1980.
- ^ Assyrian Eponym List
- ^ Tadmor, H. (1994). The Inscriptions of Tiglath-Pileser III, King of Assyria.pp.29
- ^ a b Frye, Richard N. (1992). "Assyria and Syria: Synonyms". PhD., Harvard University. Journal of Near Eastern Studies. And the ancient Assyrian empire, was the first real, empire in history. What do I mean, it had many different peoples included in the empire, all speaking Aramaic, and becoming what may be called, "Assyrian citizens." That was the first time in history, that we have this. For example, Elamite musicians, were brought to Nineveh, and they were 'made Assyrians' which means, that Assyria, was more than a small country, it was the empire, the whole Fertile Crescent.
- ^ Hawkins, John David; 1982a. "Neo-Hittite States in Syria and Anatolia" in Cambridge Ancient History (2nd ed.) 3.1: 372–441.
- ^ Hawkins, John David; 1995. "The Political Geography of North Syria and South-East Anatolia in the Neo-Assyrian Period" in Neo-Assyrian Geography, Mario Liverani (ed.), Università di Roma "La Sapienza", Dipartimento di Scienze storiche, archeologiche e anthropologiche dell’Antichità, Quaderni di Geografia Storica 5: Roma: Sargon srl, 87–101.
- ^ Urartu article, Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 2007
- ^ a b c Lamberg-Karlovsky, C. C. & Jeremy A. Sabloff (1979). Ancient Civilizations: The Near East and Mesoamerica. Benjamin/Cummings Publishing. p. 4.
- Fletcher, Banister; Cruickshank, Dan, Sir Banister Fletcher's a History of Architecture, Architectural Press, 20th edition, 1996 (first published 1896). ISBN 0-7506-2267-9. Cf. Part One, Chapter 4.
- William W. Hallo & William Kelly Simpson, The Ancient Near East: A History, Holt Rinehart and Winston Publishers, 2nd edition, 1997. ISBN 0-15-503819-2.
- Jack Sasson, The Civilizations of the Ancient Near East, New York, 1995
- Marc Van de Mieroop, History of the Ancient Near East: Ca. 3000-323 B.C., Blackwell Publishers, 2nd edition, 2006 (first published 2003). ISBN 1-4051-4911-6.
- Pittman, Holly (1984). Art of the Bronze Age: southeastern Iran, western Central Asia, and the Indus Valley. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art. ISBN 9780870993657.
- The History of the Ancient Near East – A database of the prehistoric Near East as well as its ancient history up to approximately the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans ...
- Vicino Oriente - Vicino Oriente is the journal of the Section Near East of the Department of Historical, Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences of Antiquity of Rome 'La Sapienza' University. The Journal, which is published yearly, deals with Near Eastern History, Archaeology, Epigraphy, extending its view also on the whole Mediterranean with the study of Phoenician and Punic documents. It is accompanied by 'Quaderni di Vicino Oriente', a monograph series.
- Ancient Near East.net – an information and content portal for the archaeology, ancient history, and culture of the ancient Near East and Egypt
- Freer Gallery of Art, Smithsonian Institution The Freer Gallery houses a famous collection of ancient Near Eastern artefacts and records, notebooks and photographs of excavations in Samarra (Iraq), Persepolis and Pasargadae (Iran)
- The Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Archives The archives for The Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery houses the papers of Ernst Herzfeld regarding his many excavations, along with records of other archeological excavations in the ancient Near East.
- Archaeowiki.org—a wiki for the research and documentation of the ancient Near East and Egypt
- ETANA – website hosted by a consortium of universities in the interests of providing digitized resources and relevant web links
- Ancient Near East Photographs This collection, created by Professor Scott Noegel, documents artifacts and archaeological sites of the ancient Near East; from the University of Washington Libraries Digital Image Collection
- Near East Images A directory of archaeological images of the ancient Near East
- Bioarchaeology of the Near East An Open Access journal
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