Near East

Definition

by Catherine P. Foster
published on 28 April 2011
The Near East is traditionally regarded by archaeologists and ancient historians as the region of southwest Asia, specifically the area encircled by the Mediterranean Sea, the Black Sea, the Caspian Sea, the Red Sea and the Persian/Arabian Gulf. In modern times this region includes the countries of Israel/Palestine, Lebanon, Syria, Turkey, Jordan, Iraq and western Iran. Some scholars also include Cyprus and Transcaucasia (Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan) in their definition of the Near East, though these should probably be considered "eastern Mediterranean" and "the Caucasus" respectively. Egypt, though certainly a player in terms of Near Eastern ancient history, is often excluded from traditional definitions of Near East. For modern political scientists and journalists, the term "Middle East" is used to refer to the same geographic area. The Near East is generally regarded as the "cradle of civilization" as many milestones in human history, such as the earliest agriculture, writing, and cities, derived from this region.

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Timeline

Visual Timeline
  • 10000 BCE
    Beginnings of agriculture in the Middle East.
  • 7700 BCE
    First domesticated wheats in the Fertile Crescent.
  • 7000 BCE
    Domestication of goats.
  • 6500 BCE
    First pottery in the Near East.
  • 5000 BCE
    Irrigation and agriculture begin in earnest in Mesopotamia.
  • 853 BCE
    Babylonian kings depend on Assyrian military support.
  • 850 BCE
    Medes migrate into Iran from Asia.
  • 750 BCE
    Persians migrate into Iran from Asia.
  • 750 BCE - 705 BCE
    Peak of the Assyrian empire.
  • 734 BCE
    Babylon is captured by Chaldeans.
  • 729 BCE
    Babylon is occupied by Assyrians.
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