Ancient Mesopotamia and Near East

Babylon, Egypt, Persia and other civilizations of the Near East from ancient times to the 600s A.D.
The Ancient Middle East
The rich, fertile lands of Mesopotamia housed some of the oldest sedentary civilizations. The Sumerians, considered by many to be the oldest civilization (at 5000 BC), contributed to later societies with several important innovations such as writing, boats, and the wheel. Over time, Mesopotamia would see the rise and fall of many great civilizations that would make the region one of the most vibrant and colorful in history, including empires like that of the Assyrians and trade kingdoms such as the Lydians and Pheonicians, all of which were influential to other neighboring cvilizations. North-West of Mesopotamia were the Hittites, who were probably the first people to use Iron weapons. To the Sout-West was Egypt, not nearly as old a Sumer, but one with rich resourcse that housed a thriving culture. Political fluxuation was large, partly because of the lack of natural defences in the region. In 538, the Arachemenid Persians, first led by Cyrus the Great, conquered Babylon, Anatolia, and Egypt, integrating almost all of Mesopotamia and SW Asia into his Empire.

Ancient Iran
Iran has a long history, with some it's earliest states and civilizations being the Elamites and the Medes. In 549 BC, Cyrus, the king of Ashan, created a vast empire - the biggest empire yet - that would expand into Mesopotamia, Egypt, and Anatolia. Because of it's physical integration and cultural diversity, this dynasty, the Archaemenid, is often considered the first "true" empire in the world. Alexander's conquest eventually replaced the Archaemenids with the Seleucids, who were in turn overthrown by the Parthians. The Parthians ruled Persia parallel to the times of the Han and Roman Empire. In this fourishing time and the next, Persia served as the link between Rome and China. Internal weakness caused the Parthian Empire to collapse and the Sassanids Dynasty rose. The splendid Sassanid Dynasty brought the revival of the old Archaemenid traditions, including Zoroastrianism. However, exausting wars with Byzantium left the empire unready to face the Muslim armies from Arabia.

Ancient Mesopotamia and Near East
Ancient Mesopotamia and Near East: Military History
Ancient Mesopotamia and Near East: Historical Figures