Ancient Middle East

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Mesopotamia was the setting for many ancient civilizations, including Sumeria, Babylon, and Israel. Find out all about these civilizations and much more.


An Introduction to the Ancient Middle East
Follow the rise and fall of several famous civilizations, from the Sumerians to the Persians. This fun, illustrated article examines each of the major peoples who lived in the Middle East in ancient times. Check out the cool timeline.

Religion in the Ancient Middle East
See how the major peoples of the ancient Middle East worshipped. You can see also how revolutionary the Hebrew religion really was.

Ancient Middle East Glossary
See the people, places, and things of the ancient Middle East come alive! Learn more about Mesopotamia, Assyria, and Israel.

Maps of the Ancient Middle East
Understand this place and time better by viewing maps!

Famous People of the Ancient Middle East Dropdown Menu
Choose a famous person listed here to find out more about him or her and his or her times.

Sumerians: First at Many Things
Ancient Sumeria was advanced beyond belief. Their achievements in agriculture, literature, business, and science are unparalleled in that time period. Unfortunately for them (and for us), their achievements in military matters left a little to be desired.

The Akkadians

The Akkadians were an ancient civilization in Mesopotamia who were a rival of and then a conqueror of the Sumerians. The most famous Akkadian was Sargon, the world's first emperor.

Hammurabi
Hammurabi was an Amorite king who ruled much of Mesopotamia for a time and is famous for his famous set of laws, the Code of Hammurabi.

The Elamites
The Elamite civilization arose in what is now Iran in antiquity and was known to people who lived in Mesopotamia. The Elamites are known to have come into contact and conflict with the Sumerians and the Akkadians.

The Medes
The Medes were a people who lived in the Ancient Middle East, in a large part of what is now Iran and parts of what is now Iraq and Turkey.

The Lydians
The ancient kingdom of Lydia thrived in what is now Turkey for a couple of centuries before the coming of Persia, Macedon, and Rome.

The Phoenicians

The Phoenicians were a wide-ranging collection of city-states that dominated Mediterranean trade before the rise of the Roman Empire. Among the main centers of trade and civilization in Phoenician culture were Byblos, Carthage, Sidon, and Tyre.

The Story of Ancient Israel
Maps, facts, and much more about these ancient and enduring people.

The Assyrian Empire
The Assyrians were a warlike people who ruled most of the Middle East at one time or another during several centuries in ancient times.

The Mittani
The Mittani were an ancient people who lived in what is now northern Iraq and Syria and southeastern Turkey. At the time, they were northern neighbors to the powerful Assyrian Empire. Like other peoples of that time period, Mittani enjoyed ebbs and flows, conquered and were conquered, and traded and otherwise interacted with most other ancient civilizations.

The Hittites
The people who came to be known as the Hittites migrated from the east to the ancient land of Anatolia, which is now Turkey. They arrived before 2000 B.C. and encountered two other peoples already living there: the Hattians and Hurrians. The three peoples gradually merged, possibly through conquest by the Hittites.

Ancient Egypt
The Pyramids, the Sphinx, the Pharaohs, Cleopatra, Alexandria--all these things come alive in this study of the ancient civilization along the Nile.

Wars in the Ancient Middle East
The history of the Middle East is filled with wars, especially in ancient times. This site examine the geographical, religious, and other causes of these wars.

The Persian Empire
The Persian Empire was for many years the largest empire in the history of the world. Filled with famous characters, the line of Persian kings included Cyrus the Great, Darius the Great, and Xerxes the Great. They aimed to rule all that they possibly could and did so with considerable success. It was another Darius, King Darius III, who lost the empire to an avenging Macedonian army led by the Alexander the Great.

Nebuchadnezzar
Nebuchadnezzar was a Chaldean king who ruled much of Mesopotamia for a time. He also had built the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, one of the Seven Ancient Wonders of the World.

Ancient Babylon
One of the most famous names in ancient times, Babylon was ruled by a succession of leaders and civilizations.

The Hour in Ancient Babylon
The ancient Babylonians wanted to keep track of time, so they invented the sundial to help them do it. And they also divided the day into "hours." However, the hour wasn't always 60 minutes. Find out why.
Daily Life of Mesopotamian Commoners
The common people far outnumbered the kings and elites.

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David White