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Major Countries of the Ancient Near East


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Ancient Sumer
Cuneiform tablet c. 2400 B.C., from the Kirkor Minassian collection, Library of Congress.

Sumer | Babylonia | Assyria | Judah (Judaea) | Persia | Lebanon | Egypt | Syria | Anatolia | Fertile Crescent Map

Cuneiform tablet c. 2400 B.C., from the Kirkor Minassian collection, Library of Congress.
At the eastern Asian end of the fertile crescent, Sumer was located in what is now southern Iraq, between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers -- Mesopotamia. Of uncertain origin, the Sumerians may have arrived on the scene in about 4000 B.C. They joined the (pre-)Akkadians, who took their name from the not yet located city of Akkad. Making the most of their abundant natural resource, clay, the Sumerians invented the system of writing known as cuneiform.

The Sumerian city-states and the neighboring Semitic Akkadians reached from the Persian Gulf to modern Baghdad. They fought frequently, but also advanced culture. They developed metallurgy so they could offer skilled products for trade with areas richer in natural resources. They made ziggurat temples, developed cities and the practice of kingship, which you probably already know if you play Civilization. They even made a list of their kings with dates and some biographical detail. By about 1900 B.C., they were eclipsed in power by people from the east, like the Amorites, another Semitic group, and by the 18th century B.C., the area was Babylonian.


  1. Sumer (this page)
  2. Babylonia
  3. Assyria
  4. Judah (Judaea)
  5. Persia
  6. Lebanon
  7. Egypt
  8. Syria
  9. Anatolia
  10. Fertile Crescent Map

Photo Courtesy of the Library of Congress

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