Welcome to Ancient West Asia

Sumerian WritingThe lands closest to the Mediterranean Sea that have been attached to Asian soil for many centuries is called West Asia and often times referred to as the Near East or the Middle East. In this article, you will learn a bit about the people that once lived in the countries, cities, and regions that once covered the land located between modern Turkestan in the north, Afghanistan, the Persian Gulf, and the Mediterranean Sea.

West Asia is considered one of the first locations in the world where people farmed their land and lived in organized towns. Many historians believe it is one of the first regions that placed kings in power and established cities. With these statements come debated issues. Historians and archaeologists generally disagree when it comes to the people who they wish to say were the first to build a civilization in West Asia , the Egyptians or the Sumerians. However, they both built their civilizations around the same time.

As time passed and more people began to emerge and form their own civilizations, an increasing amount of different groups assumed power of ancient West Asia, such as the Persians and the Assyrians , who were lucky enough to stay in power for hundreds of years. Other groups weren’t so lucky (such as the Akkadians), who held onto their power for a brief moment. Throughout the historical record, you’ll find that some groups ruled over all of West Asia. The Greeks, Parthians, and the Arabs accomplished this feat.

Other groups took control over collections of smaller kingdoms, like Phoenicia, Babylon, and Troy. Overall, ancient West Asia has a long trail of people fighting to gain their independence while others eyed taking control of their surrounding neighbors. It’s only fitting that we start off with the Sumerians when speaking of powerful groups in ancient West Asia.

The Sumerians

Situated in a region between the Tigris and the Euphrates rivers, the Sumerians lived in West Asia, in what is now known as modern Iraq. During the same time that they were building their civilization, the first Pharaohs were gaining power of Egypt. This all occurred about 3100 BC. When tracing the history of the Sumerians, they suggest that they had arrived to the Euphrates from another location, most likely traveling by boat from the Persian Gulf. Archeologists have uncovered evidence that suggests they built their first cities by the Persian Gulf and then later relocated further north. Today, some people feel that the Sumerians are distant cousins to those native to Iraq.

Around 3000 BC, we see the Sumerians begin to write as a form of communication and recording, which helps shed light on their existence. However, interpreting the early writing of the Sumerians is rather difficult. Other interesting facts about the Sumerians will be found in the second installment of this exploration of ancient West Asia.