The ancient Near East was the home of early civilizations within a region roughly corresponding to the modern Middle East: Mesopotamia (modern Iraq, southeast Turkey, southwest Iran, northeastern Syria and Kuwait), ancient Egypt, ancient Iran (Elam, Media, Parthia and Persia), Anatolia/Asia Minor and Armenian Highlands (Turkey's Eastern Anatolia Region, Armenia, northwestern Iran, southern Georgia, and western Azerbaijan), the Levant (modern Syria, Lebanon, Palestine, Israel, and Jordan), Cyprus and the Arabian Peninsula. The ancient Near East is studied in the fields of Near Eastern archaeology and ancient history.
The history of the ancient Near East begins with the rise of Sumer in the 4th millennium BC, though the date it ends varies. The term covers the Bronze Age and the Iron Age in the region, until either the conquest by the Achaemenid Empire in the 6th century BC, that by Macedonian Empire in the 4th century BC, or the Muslim conquests in the 7th century AD.
The ancient Near East is considered one of the cradles of civilization. It was here that intensive year-round agriculture was first practiced, leading to the rise of the first dense urban settlements and the development of many familiar institutions of civilization, such as social stratification, centralized government and empires, organized religion and organized warfare. It also saw the creation of the first writing system and law codes, early advances that laid the foundations of astronomy and mathematics, and the invention of the wheel.
During the period, states became increasingly large, until the region became controlled by militaristic empires that had conquered a number of different cultures.
[[Image:|140x170px|left|Main stairway at Persepolis palace]]The Achaemenid Empire (550–330 BC) was forged by Cyrus the Great, and became territorially the largest empire in antiquity, stretching from Pakistan and Central Asia to the Black Sea, Asia Minor and Thrace, and much of Egypt going 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. This era saw the spread of Persian culture, and the beginning of the decline of ancient Near East culture centered in Babylon. Two centuries later, after Alexander the Great's conquest, Greece would eclipse both.
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...that the first writing system was developed in the late 4th millennium BC in Sumer? It was a logographic script which is still incompletely deciphered.
...that the Sumerian language, the Kassite language, and the Hattic language are all language isolates, unrelated to any other known language?
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