The Ancient Middle East

By — McGraw-Hill Professional
Updated on Feb 3, 2012

Time Line

1800 BC Hebrews move to Canaan
1280 BC Moses leads the Israelites from Egypt to Israel
1050 BC Phoenician alphabet
1020-922 BC Kingdom of Israel
550 BC Birth of Persian Empire under Cyrus the Great
492-479 BC Persian Wars
323 BC Fall of the Persian Empire


The Ancient Middle East: Israel, Phoenicia, and Persia

The area we today call the Middle East was the center of western civilization in ancient times. By the end of the period discussed in this chapter, civilization can really begin to be called Western, as the peoples of Europe—first Greek and then Roman—took over supremacy from the peoples of the Fertile Crescent.

By the turn of the millennium in 1000 BC, two tiny civilizations that settled on the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea had developed systems that were of lasting influence on the Western world. The Phoenicians perfected an alphabet in which each character stood for a sound rather than a whole word, and the Israelites set the example of a belief in one unique god who had created human beings in his own image.

About five hundred years later, the Persian Empire absorbed both of these civilizations and many more besides. It became the greatest empire of the ancient world. Unwieldy, diverse, and internally quarrelsome, it lasted only two hundred years or so before it was conquered by the mighty Alexander the Great.

Practice questions for these concepts can be found at:

The Ancient Middle East Practice Test

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