Middle East Overview

The Middle East, Southwest Asia, in political-geographic parlance today mostlycalled West Asia. In the Near East archeology and ancient Near Eastern studies, the term Near East continues to be common; the area, the scene of the earliest advanced civilizations, is also referred to as the Middle East (often including ancient Egypt and the ancient Near East).

Prehistory: The Middle East offered good living conditions during all climatic periods of the Pleistocene and the Post-Ice Age. The earliest evidence to date for the presence of humans (Homo erectus or Homo ergaster) comes from the older Paleolithic Age (Paleolithic) and is 1.3-1.4 million years old: rubble tools and hand axes of the early Acheuleans from sites in Palestine (Tell Ubeidiya and Djisr Banat Yakub in the Jordan Valley, Khirbet Maskana near Tiberias); to the z. T. even older finds the Caucasus Caucasus, Prehistory. The Acheulean is also represented in the Judean desert (Umm Qatafa cave) and in northern Syria (Latamne) in an early form. Paleolithic equipment inventories corresponding to the stages of Clactonia and Tayacia come from the Tabun Cave on Mount Carmel near Haifa (Israel). Also from Israel (Gesher Benot Yaaqov, Upper Jordan Valley) comes the oldest evidence to date (around 800,000 years) for the active use of fire by humans. The Middle Paleolithic Moustéria, which is represented in Western Asia, particularly in Iraq and in Syria and Palestine, developed richly. In many places graves were found in which mostly early to classical Neanderthals, in some cases even early representatives of the anatomically modern Homo sapiens, were buried (caves of Carmel ; Qafzeh near Nazareth; Shanidar Cave, Iraq). The Upper Palaeolithic is documented in Syria and Palestine by the Antélien (Antelias Cave, Lebanon) and the Atlas culture (Atlas). In Northern Iraq the younger Paleolithic Age is traced back to the time around 30,000 BC in Shanidar. Baradostia and the late Paleolithic Zarzien are represented. In Turkey (Asia Minor) the Upper Paleolithic BC a. attested in the area of Antalya on the south coast; It was here that painted or carved representations of animals and people were found for the first time in the Near East.

During the Natufian period (around 12,000 to 8,000 BC) the Middle East gained a cultural lead over almost all other regions. In the Levant – for the first time in human history – wild grain was harvested according to plan and stored as a food supply; cultivation of wild wheat cannot be ruled out. This stock economy brought with it a permanent way of settling, which promoted population growth as well as social and religious differentiation in these societies. The Natufien is viewed as a transition culture from the Late Paleolithic to the Early Neolithic and is sometimes referred to as the “Protoneolithic”. Sites of Natufian settlements are Eynan (Ain Mallaha) in northern Israel and the earliest layers of Beidha and Jericho in the Jordan Valley. The sanctuary of Göbekli Tepe in the area of the upper Euphrates (Southeast Asia Minor), which has been uncovered and explored since 1995, can also be dated to the beginning of the Neolithic Age.

Towards the end of the 9th millennium BC BC started the early, akeramischen (ceramic-less) phase of the Neolithic (Neolithic) one (early sites: Nevali Çori and Çayönü in southeast Turkey, Jarmo in northeast Iraq, Beidha, Baja and Basta in Jordan). This cultural period made the Middle East an essential part of human history. The earliest farming techniques (rain and dry fields, irrigation agriculture) were developed and practiced here, the first large fortified settlements such as Jericho with around 2,000-3,000 residents emerged, the building of houses and walls was developed and religious changes were tangible (mother goddesses, skull cult). Already in the 8th millennium BC The Middle East is likely to have been largely “Neolithized” (productive economy, sedentary lifestyle, beginning animal husbandry and breeding). Presumably due to significant population growth (birth surplus) in the region of the Fertile crescent moon, the new economy and way of life (including the technology of ceramic production) spread very quickly and is already around 7000 BC. In western Anatolia, around 6500 on the Greek mainland. The full Neolithic with ceramics and cattle breeding is in Anatolia (Çatal Hüyük, Hacılar), on the Levant (Ugarit), on the central Euphrates (Buqras), in northeastern Iraq (Jarmo) and in Iran (Godintepe, Tepe Jahja, Tepe Sialk, Tepe Guran at Bachtaran) detectable.

The extraction and processing of copper into jewelry and tools also took place around 6000 BC. Their beginning in the Middle East. During the Copper Age (Chalcolithic, 6th – 4th millennium BC) the importance of copper metallurgy increased, which led to socially differentiated forms of society based on the division of labor. The first phase of the Chalcolithic period is known as the Hassuna period after the Tell Hassuna site in northern Iraq. In the following Halaf period (Tell Halaf) an artistically painted ceramic is widespread in large parts of the Fertile Crescent. Architecture, a highly developed metallurgy and extensive trade contacts already formed the basis for the later development of the early advanced cultures. In the third phase (Obeidzeit, Tell Obeid) a rapid development of southern Mesopotamia takes place, where during the following Uruk period the transition to early history takes place with the invention of the scriptures (Sumerians). The Uruk culture spread as early as the 2nd half of the 4th millennium BC. Over large parts of the Middle East. After its end, numerous local Early Bronze Age cultures emerged that remained unscripted in Anatolia, Iran and Palestine, while Mesopotamian cuneiform was established in Syria as early as the middle of the 3rd millennium (Ebla).

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Middle East Overview

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