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The Ancient Near East - 1600 pixels photos

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The Ancient Near East - 1600 pixels photos​

The ancient Near East was the home of early civilizations within a region roughly corresponding to the modern Middle East: Mesopotamia (modern Iraq, southeast Turkey, northeastern Syria and Kuwait), ancient Egypt, ancient Iran (Elam, Media, Parthia and Persia), Anatolia (modern Turkey and Armenia), the Levant (modern Syria, Lebanon, Israel, State of Palestine and Jordan), Cyprus and the Arabian Peninsula.

The ancient Near East is considered the cradle of civilization. It was the first to practice intensive year-round agriculture, it invented the potter's wheel and then the vehicular- and mill wheel, created the first centralized governments, law codes and empires, as well as introducing social stratification, slavery and organized warfare, and it laid the foundation for the fields of astronomy and mathematics.

This thread will present archaeological sites from Prehistory to Antiquity, as well as medieval Byzantine and Islamic sites and natural landscapes.

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Jericho, Palestine

Jericho, Palestine

This may be the oldest continuously occupied city in the world.

The first permanent settlement developed between 10,000 and 9000 BCE. As the world warmed, a new culture based on agriculture and sedentary dwelling emerged, which archaeologists have termed "Pre-Pottery Neolithic A". Circular dwellings were built of clay and straw bricks left to dry in the sun, which were plastered together with a mud mortar. By about 9400 BC the town had grown to more than 70 modest dwellings. Estimates put the population as high as two to three thousand people and as low as two to three hundred. A massive stone wall over 3.6 metres high and 1.8 metres wide at the base was surrounding the town and inside this wall stood a tower over 3.6 metres high, containing an internal staircase with 22 stone steps.

After a few centuries the first settlement was abandoned. A second settlement, established in 6800 BCE, perhaps represents the work of an invading people who absorbed the original inhabitants into their dominant culture. Artifacts dating from this period include ten plastered human skulls, painted so as to reconstitute the individuals' features. These represent the first example of portraiture in art history. At this time, probably the population was already speaking a predecessor of Canaanite languages, spoken by the ancestors of today Jews and Palestinian Arabs as well as by other peoples in the region.

A succession of settlements followed from 4500 BCE onward, the largest constructed in 2600 BC. In the latter half of the Middle Bronze Age (c. 1700 BCE) the city enjoyed some prosperity, its walls having been strengthened and expanded.

Assyrian, Babylonian, Persian, Hellenistic and Roman rules followed, the majoritary population being during this time Jewish. In 4th century CE, most Jews converted to Christianity and after the Arab conquest in 7th century the Jews started to convert to Islam and adopt the Arab language, a part remaining in the Christian and Jewish religion. Crussader and Ottoman rules followed, then British administration in 20th century.

Megiddo, Israel

Megiddo, Israel

Known especially under its Greek name Armageddon, Megiddo was a site of great importance in the ancient world. It guarded the western branch of a narrow pass and trade route connecting Egypt and Assyria. Because of its strategic location, Megiddo was the site of several historical battles. The site was inhabited from approximately 7000 BCE to 586 BCE.

Excavations have unearthed 26 layers of ruins, indicating a long period of settlement.

The site is now protected as Megiddo National Park and is a World Heritage Site.

Carchemish, Turkey and Syria

Carchemish, Turkey and Syria​

Situated on Euphrates, in the point where the river is crossed by the modern border between Turkey and Syria, Carchemish was in ancient times an independent city-state but also part of Mitanni, Hittite and Neo Assyrian Empires.

Oldest vestiges are cist tombs from 2,400 BCE and literary, is mentioned in documents found in the Ebla archives of the 3rd millennium BC.

The city became one of the most important centres in the Hittite Empire and reached its apogee around the 11th century BC. While the Hittite empire fell to the Sea Peoples during the Bronze Age collapse, Carchemish survived the attacks to continue to be the capital of an important Neo-Hittite kingdom.

Carchemish is now an extensive set of ruins - 90 hectares, of which 55 lie in Turkey and 35 in Syria. Excavations by the British Museum between 1878 and 1914 uncovered substantial remains of the Assyrian and Neo-Hittite periods, including defensive structures, temples, palaces, and numerous basalt statues and reliefs with Luwian hieroglyphic inscriptions.

Tepe Sialk, Iran

Tepe Sialk, Iran​

Tepe Sialk is a large archeological site (a tepe or Persian tappeh, "hill" or "mound") in a suburb of the city of Kashan.

The Sialk ziggurat was built around the 3000 BC. A joint study between Iran's Cultural Heritage Organization, the Louvre, and the Institut Francais de Recherche en Iran also verifies the oldest settlements in Sialk to date back to 5500–6000 BC.

Susa, Iran

Susa, Iran​

Located near the modern city of Shush, ancient Susa was one of the most important cities in Near East.

Mentioned in the earliest Sumerian records and in the Bible, is one of the oldest settlements in the region. Before 7000 BCE a Neolithic village appeared and around 4395 BCE, a fortified town was founded. Evidence of a painted-pottery civilization has been dated to c 5000 BCE.

Shortly after Susa was first settled 6000 years ago, its inhabitants erected a temple on a monumental platform that rose over the flat surrounding landscape. The exceptional nature of the site is still recognizable today in the artistry of the ceramic vessels that were placed as offerings in a thousand or more graves near the base of the temple platform.

It was the capital of an Akkadian province until ca. 2240 BCE. Following this, the city was conquered by the neo-Sumerian Ur-III dynasty, and held until Ur finally collapsed at the hands of the Elamites in ca. 2004 BCE. At this time, Susa became an Elamite capital.

In ca. 1175 BCE the Elamites under Shutruk-Nahhunte plundered the original stele bearing the Code of Hammurabi, the world's first known written laws, and took it to Susa. Archeologists found it in 1901.

Assyrian and Persian rules followed, as well as Macedonian, Parthian and again Persian.

Iḏa (modern Izeh), Iran

Iḏa (modern Izeh), Iran​

Thanks to its relatively inaccessible location and the control of a major trade route, Iḏa has been the site of a series of minor, semi-independent local states. Recent archeological surveys show a succession of significant demographic cycles from the 5th millennium BCE to the 14th century CE.

Uruk, Mesopotamia (modern day Iraq)

Uruk, Mesopotamia (modern day Iraq)​

Was an ancient city of Sumer and later Babylonia, situated east of the present bed of the Euphrates river.

Uruk played a leading role in the early urbanization of Sumer in the mid 4th millennium BCE. Founded around 5000 BCE, it reached its apogee in 2900 BCE, when probably had 50,000–80,000 residents living in 6 km², being the biggest city in the world at that time.

In myth and literature, Uruk was famous as the capital city of Gilgamesh, hero of the Epic of Gilgamesh.

The Eanna district of Uruk is historically significant as both writing and monumental public architecture emerge here for the first time in history of humanity, during Uruk periods VI-IV (3400–3100 BC).

The importance of Uruk is that it was the first proper city in the world and the first real civilisation, with a developed hierarchized society, real urban features and the use of an advanced writing system. By starting to have written records, Uruk, as leading city of Sumerians, marked the passage from Prehistory to History in the development of human civilisation.

Through various intermediaries, the city also gave the name to the modern country of Iraq.

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