By and large, the study of civilizations of the Middle East is the oldest known history in the world. Beginning about 11,000 years ago in some of the world’s oldest cities like Catal Huyak, Jericho and Ur, the people that make up this region began to use agriculture to make living easier and safer than during their hunting and gathering age. The Middle East has many different tribes, and ethnic groups that have built a complex culture. It is these differences that have contributed greatly to warfare and generations of conflict.
Middle Eastern history and its study spans over several thousand years covering the Sumer Civilization on the Ephrates and Tigris Rivers to the current age of nation states. Middle Eastern culture can be best understood by studying the politics, economics, religion, social life, intellectual life, and art as well as geography. Each of these domains played a large role influencing the historical developments over time.
Not to be outdone, religion also played a dominant role in driving politics, economics, and daily life in the Middle East. The development of religion is linked to polytheism in the early civilizations which overtime slowly gave way to monotheistic Judaism, dualistic Zorastrianism, then Christianity and finally, Islam, the dominant religion of today. Although historians, scholars, and westerners tend to focus on the conflicts caused by religion in the Middle East, these great religions have also caused some of the world’s most beautiful architecture and the great wisdom of the Jewish, Christian and Islamic scriptures. Many of the world’s most important inventions come from the people of the Middle East.