The Middle East was the
cradle of mankind's first advanced civilizations. In Egypt and the
Fertile Crescent, which extends in an arc from the north of the
Arabian Peninsula east through Palestine to Mesopotamia, the first
state structures emerged in parallel with the further development of
animal husbandry, agriculture, trade, and writing. The first great
empires, such as those of the Egyptian pharaohs, the Babylonians,
the Assyrians, and the Persians, evolved at the beginning of the
third millennium B.C., out of small communities usually clustered
around a city. Similar development also occurred on the Indian
subcontinent and in China, where quite distinct early advanced
civilizations took shape as well.
The golden mask of Tutankhamun, a jewel of ancient
showing the pharaoh in a ceremonial robe decorated with the heraldic
animals, the vulture and cobra, ca. 1340 B.C.
Syria and Palestine
The Abduction of Europa
According to Greek mythology, Zeus, the father of the gods, assumed the
form of a white bull and abducted Europa, the daughter of King Agenor of
Phoenicia. By him she conceived Minos, the legendary king of Crete. Much
that arrived in Europe from Asia first passed through Minoan Crete,
including the Phoenician alphabet.