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3 - Empires in the Middle East

"The cradle of civilization."

Throughout the centuries, historians have used these powerful words to


Vocabulary describe the Middle East. In the ancient Middle East, many great civilizations
Using a dictionary or the rose and fell. The religions of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam each trace their
textbook, write the word origins back to this part of the world.
with its corresponding
definition in your
notebook. All of these civilizations arose in the area known as the Fertile Crescent. The
1. Middle East Fertile Crescent stretches from the Mediterranean Sea in the west to the
2. Fertile Crescent Zagros Mountains in the east.
3. empire The Middle East
4. conquest is also the
5. pharoah crossroads of
6. Babylon the ancient
7. homogenous world. Since it is
located at the
8. Royal Road
merging point
9. autonomy
of three
continents,
Europe, Africa,
and Asia, many
travelers journeying from one continent to the
next passed through this area, absorbing its
culture and introducing new ideas to the region.
Today it is rich in both history and culture.

Babylon: The First Empire


1795 B.C. - 1750 B.C. - Hammurabis rule For 1,500 years, the Mesopotamia city-states vied with each other for
power and influence. It was not until Hammurabi united most of this area after a triumphant military campaign
that the city of Babylon reached its first great glory.

1220 B.C. - Assyrian rule The rule of the Babylonian kings contrasts favorably with the rule of the Assyrian kings
who destroyed the first Babylonian Empire and left a legacy of war and destruction. Assyrian dominance in
Mesopotamia, which lasted from approximately 1400-600 B.C.E., left Babylon in control of a military aggressive
people. After being destroyed and then rebuilt by the Assyrians,
Babylon was restored as the center of the Assyrian empire 1,000
years after being the center of a different empire

729 B.CC -Chaldean rule Chaldea, a region of southern


Mesopotamia, conquered the Assyrian capital of Nineveh in 606
B.C.E. and used the opportunity to establish his own kingdom in
Babylon. Under King Nebuchadnezzar, the Tower of Babel reached
its apex, the Hanging Gardens of Babylon (one of the Seven
Wonders of the Ancient World) were constructed, Babylonians
destroyed the Great Temple in Jerusalem and 7,000 Jews were
brought back to Babylonia in captivity.
Empire of Egypt
1550-712 B.C. - After a middle period of conquest and defeat of
Egypt by the Hysksos, Egypt recovered its greatness during the New
Kingdom. The New Kingdom is the name of an empirical period in
ancient Egyptian history and was a period of great wealth, luxury
and power. The New Kingdom was noted for its territorial
expansion and its richness of architecture and
art under rulers such as Amenhotep III and
Ramses II. The New Kingdom was marked by
the famous militant pharaohs of the 18th
dynasty that included Tutankhamen, his
father, the 'heretic pharaoh' Akhenaten and Queen Hatshepsut.

Military campaigns were launched during the New Kingdom and the Eastern coast of the
Mediterranean came under Egyptian rule. Even though Egypt traditionally traded with their southern
neighbors, the Nubians, eventually Egyptians conquered and incorporated parts of Nubian territory into their
kingdom during this time. By the eighth century, Nubia had gained control of the Egyptian kingdom for only
about 100 years. During these back and forth relations, both cultures blended until they were homogenous.

Empire of Assyria
The Assyrian Empire, which lasted from around 900 B.C.E. to 612
B.C.E.,was the worlds first true empire in the sense that it ruled
over a multiethnic population and a vast variety of land. At its
peak, Assyrian control extended over the Fertile Crescent
(Mesopotamia, Syria, and the Levant), parts of Iran and Anatolia,
and even to Egypt for a while. Assyria was known as a merciless
civilization of conquest. Assyrian armies would fiercely attack
other lands, absorbing their people and cultures into their own as
an act of empire building.

Empire of Persia
The Persian Empire, founded by Cyrus the Great in 550
B.C.E., was the first major global empire in history,
spanning most of the civilized world and
containing 44 percent of the worlds population
at the time; a proportion that has never since
been exceeded. The Persia n Empire managed
to successfully rule much of the Middle East,
Central Asia, and parts of South Asia and
Europe for hundreds of years. The Persian
Empire also benefited from being well-connected by a series of roads, using a
standardized official language, having a bureaucracy, and establishing many of the other
hallmarks of future empires. However, the fall of the empire to Alexander the Great by 330 B.C.E. was
spectacular in its swiftness. Perhaps this was the result of the entropy that befalls all empires. As Cyrus the
Great warned the Persians, the luxuries and wealth that comes from ruling a successful empire eventually leads
to soft people.

Cyrus the Great was notable for establishing some of the policies that made his empire successful. For example,
he allowed the empires heterogeneous populations cultural and religious autonomy. This made revolts
infrequent and gave its many nationalities a stake in the empires continued existence.