Portal:Ancient Near East

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Obelisk temple in Byblos
Phoenicia was an ancient civilization centered in the north coast of ancient Canaan. Phoenician civilization was an enterprising maritime trading culture that spread across the Mediterranean between the period of 1550 BC to 300 BC. The Phoenicians often traded by means of a galley, a man-powered sailing vessel and are credited with the invention of the bireme.

Rather than being a single country, Phoenician civilization was organized in city-states. Each city-state was an independent unit politically, although they could come into conflict, be dominated by another city-state, or collaborate in leagues or alliances. Tyre (Lebanon) and Sidon were the most powerful Phoenician states in the Levant, but were not as powerful as the North African ones would come to be.

The Phoenicians were also the first state level society to make extensive use of the alphabet, and the Phoenician alphabet is considered to be the ancestor of all modern alphabets. It was adopted by the Aramaeans, who spread it through the ancient Near East, which led to the Hebrew, Indian and Arabic alphabets. And through their maritime trade, the Phoenicians spread the use of the alphabet to North Africa and Europe where it was adopted by the Greeks and ultimately by all European languages.

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Achaemenid Empire
Cyrus II, the Great (Old Persian: Kūruš; reigned 559 – c. 530 BC), was the founder of the Persian Empire under the Achaemenid dynasty. The empire expanded under his rule, eventually conquering most of Southwest Asia and much of Central Asia, from Egypt and the Hellespont in the west to the Indus River in the east, to create the largest state the world had yet seen.

During his twenty-nine year reign, Cyrus fought against some of the greatest states of his time, including the Median Empire, the Lydian Empire, and the Neo-Babylonian Empire. Cyrus did not venture into Egypt, as he himself died in battle, fighting the Massagetae along the Syr Darya in August 530 BC.

Beyond his nation, Cyrus left a lasting legacy on Jewish religion (through his Edict of Restoration), politics, and military strategy, as well as on both Eastern and Western civilization.

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Murex shell bearing the name "Rimush, king of Kish"
Credit: Jastrow
Murex shell bearing the name "Rimush, king of Kish"
Akkadian Empire, ca. 23rd century BC (Louvre)

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Did you know...

[[Image:|100x100px|right|Earliest known pictographic writing c. 3500 BC]]...that c. 5300 BC Eridu was the first settlement in what would become the cradle of civilization?

...that the first writing system was developed in the late 4th millennium BC in Sumer? It was a logographic script which is still incompletely deciphered.

...that the Sumerian language, the Kassite language, and the Hattic language are all language isolates, unrelated to any other known language?

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