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Middle East Studies: Patterns of Time: Historical-Geographical Foundation

Jenkins Macedo
Prof. Eskandari
February 17, 2010
Chapter 3

Patterns of Time: Historical-Geographical Foundation

This chapter was my favorite, because it brought back to my knowledge what I learned about the Middle East several years ago in another cause related to the historical developments of the Holy Land before and after biblical periods.

The current geographic location upon which the Middle East is situated has been in existence since the discovery of humans’ civilization. It can be argued that the Middle East is the beginning place of human civilization, which started around the banks of the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers in ancient Mesopotamia.
The region encompasses successive cultures, kingdoms and empires and also serves as the birthplace of the three main world religions (Judaism, Christianity and Islamism) and diverse languages (Towel of Babel). Throughout the history of the Middle East, past cultures, economic influences and empires can still be detected from ancient remains that were left behind. In the Middle East, the past is always becomes present. The evidence of the past relating to powerful cultures, empires and kingdoms are brought back to life through archaeological discoveries of ancient remains that guide us back to the past and points to the future.

Certain sites in the Middle East in the past had very significant religious influences and these same areas became the epicenter for later groups who continued in the steps of their ancestors. The annual pilgrimage to Mecca and Medina by the Muslims faithful in fulfillment of their religious duties is one of such examples. However, multiple religious groups use some sites together and this in most cases led to disputes and subsequent wars. Nevertheless, over the years, the Middle East also developed several infrastructures such as irrigation systems, transportation routes, and agricultural structures like the terraces for farm animals. Also, the use of natural resources in the region increased significantly as human population in the region increased. Culture and Art are also enriching in each society in the Middle East as every city and town has a distinct cultural makeup from each other. With the assistance of archaeological and excavation works done in the Middle East, we are able to discovered the magnificent past of the region, which shares light on the present. However, the illegal excavation and trading of ancient artifacts of the region on the black-market without due respect to the people and their cultures is a shame to humanity.

Historically, the Middle East played and is still playing a significant role in global politics. The region hosted the seats of some of the world’s powerful and influential kingdoms and empires. Some of the most important and significant kingdoms, which existed in the region and played important roles in shaping the cultures, economy, military and trade included but not limited to the Akkadians subdued the Sumerians in 2335 BCE originating from the Arabian Peninsula. The Gutians of the Zagros Mountains in about 2200 BCE later overran the Akkadians. The Sumerians reunited with the Akkadians and established their stronghold at Ur, but later reached their peak in 2000 BCE. This gives rise to another Semitic group to be established; that is, the Babylonians. Under one of the most influential Kings in the Middle East, Hammurabi, the Babylonians controlled all of Mesopotamia. The Babylonian Empire played an important role in the historical, cultural and military development of Mesopotamia for about 2,000 years. In about 539 BCE, the Babylonian Empire fell to the rise winds of the Persian Empire under Cyrus the Great. The Persian Empire lasted for about 200 years before crumbling to horses of Alexander The Great in between 334 and 326 BCE. Alexander served his empire for only three years before he died of high fever at the age of thirty-three. His military commanders then divided his Kingdom. Seleucid and Ptolemaic Empires emerged to be influential in Egypt and the Middle East. The Roman Empire was the next very important empire that emerged to control the affairs of the Middle East after the fall of Alexander’s empire and those of his Generals.

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