Near East


Catherine P. Foster
published on 28 April 2011
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Available in other languages: Malay, Arabic, Italian, Ukrainian, Belarusian, Serbian, Turkish
Map of Mesopotamia, c. 1400 BCE (by Javierfv1212, CC BY-SA)
Map of Mesopotamia, c. 1400 BCE
Javierfv1212 (CC BY-SA)
The Near East is traditionally regarded by archaeologists and ancient historians as the region of southwest Asia, specifically the area encircled by the Mediterranean Sea, the Black Sea, the Caspian Sea, the Red Sea and the Persian/Arabian Gulf. In modern times this region includes the countries of Israel/Palestine, Lebanon, Syria, Turkey, Jordan, Iraq and western Iran. Some scholars also include Cyprus and Transcaucasia (Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan) in their definition of the Near East, though these should probably be considered "eastern Mediterranean" and "the Caucasus" respectively. Egypt, though certainly a player in terms of Near Eastern ancient history, is often excluded from traditional definitions of Near East. For modern political scientists and journalists, the term "Middle East" is used to refer to the same geographic area. The Near East is generally regarded as the "cradle of civilization" as many milestones in human history, such as the earliest agriculture, writing, and cities, derived from this region.

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About the Author

Catherine P. Foster
Catherine Foster is an anthropological archaeologist specializing in the study of the ancient Middle East, and whose research focuses on the everyday life of non-elite households from 5,000 years ago.

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Cite This Work

APA Style

Foster, C. P. (2011, April 28). Near East. World History Encyclopedia. Retrieved from

Chicago Style

Foster, Catherine P.. "Near East." World History Encyclopedia. Last modified April 28, 2011.

MLA Style

Foster, Catherine P.. "Near East." World History Encyclopedia. World History Encyclopedia, 28 Apr 2011. Web. 27 Sep 2022.