Middle East Conflict: Jews and Arabs Fight for Israel and Palestine
Timeline: Middle East Conflict
5000 BC
ASIA
TIMELINE CHECKPOINT
 
The Rise and Fall of Empires
 
The Middle East Conflict
Timeline Starting Point:
Ancient Mesopotamia

Land Area: Past and Present
Mesopotamia (is the Greek word for “between two rivers”), and was the name for the area of land between the Tigris-Euphrates river systems in the Middle East, in what is now southern Iraq. 

Later, and until modern-day, the term Mesopotamia refers to all the lands in “the fertile crescent”, including the eastern parts of Syria, almost all of Iraq plus Kuwait, Lebanon, Jordan, Palestine, regions along the Turkish-Syrian and Iran-Iraq borders, and others.

Fertile Land, Water, and Wildlife
Perfect for Human Settlement

The land in the Mesopotamia region was very fertile. In the Northern part, there were rivers and streams that are fed from the mountains, and strong rainy seasons to water the soil  On the other hand, the southern region was much hotter and dryer, but the two large rivers the Tigris and the Euphrates, allowed for irrigation.  Furthermore, the land between the rivers was filled with wildlife and edible vegetation making it an attractive area for early man to move in to.  And, once they figured out how to grow crops there, civilization soon followed.

Cradle of Civilization
and Seat of Learning:

Rise of the City-State
Mesopotamia (and Syria in particular) is often referred to as the “Cradle of Civilization”, because it one of the first places in the world where cities developed and empires were formed.

Because it was so easy to grow food, civilization was easily developed. People were able to settle down and populations grew, towns formed, cities emerged, and empires were built.

The cultural stability fostered the creation of art, more intricate designs in architecture and sculpture, as well as “a number of specific and momentous inventions: the plough and the wheel, the chariot and the sailboat, and the cylinder-seal, the single most distinctive art form of ancient Mesopotamia. It also emphasized the importance of property ownership and business in the daily life of the people. Things were either invented or improved upon.  The people of Syria have been credited with the invention of writing, even though writing was also developed in Egypt, in the Indus Valley, in China, and independently in Mesoamerica (pre-Columbian America).

Dominated and Controlled by
Many People and Cultures with
Ethnic Cleansing a Common
Unlike the more unified civilizations of Egypt or Greece, Mesopotamia was a collection of varied cultures and people. Multiple empires and civilizations were produced, with power changing hands between the varied people indigenous to the area, many times. 

The following are the primary groups of people who dominated and controlled the Mesopotamia region. Assent to power in this region normally involved enslaving previous inhabitants, exterminating them, or forcing them into exile. Under the rule of Sargon II and his son, Sennacherib, tens of thousands of Jewish Hebrew captives, the 10 Lost Tribes of Israel, were deported by the Assyrians.  
  • Sumerians
  • Akkadians
  • Babylonians
  • Assyrians
  • Neo-Assyrian
  • Neo-Babylonian
  • Neo-Assyrian
  • Persians
Formation of City-State
Leads to Imperialism and
Constant Warfare
During this period of time, imperialism – the desire to conquer and extend power over large territories through intimidation or military action – grew to prominence in the city-states of the Middle East, and even throughout the European and Asian continents (Eurasia), as each ruler sought the accumulation of more wealth and power. Warfare was common and uninterrupted conflicts drained all available resources, energies, and populations.

The civilization of Egypt rose to a peak and its pyramids were constructed, to remain the tallest and largest human constructions for thousands of years. Also in Egypt, pharaohs began to posture themselves as living gods

Cradle of Religion
During the period dominated by Sumer, Akkad, and Babylonia, Mesopotamians worshipped many gods.

Even though there is evidence of influence of earlier religions, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam share belief in a single god -- ultimately, the same god, that of Abraham.

Largest Empire by Land Mass
Sargon of Akkad pushed his empire to the whole of Mesopotamia and beyond, and the size of his territory holdings would not be surpassed in size until the Assyrians, 1,500 years later.

5000 BC
FUN FACT
WORD DISCOVERY
 

Diaspora
(die AS PUH ruh)
  • Driving people away, or removing people, from their original homeland.
  • Often used in reference to Jews forced out of Israel when the territory is conquered by other groups
  • Also used in reference to the million of Africans stolen from the African continent for the benefit of the slave trade

Semitic
(suh meh ICK)

Semites
(suh MITES)

Original Significance
Strictly speaking, "semitic" refers to a language group that includes Hebrew, Arabic, and Aramaic and certain ancient languages such as Phoenician and Akkadian.  It includes all people whose spoken language shares certain characteristics.

The spread of Semitic language more or less indicates the spread of Semitic tribes throughout history. In many cases, the language was adopted by many tribes subdued during semitic conquests, especially the Muslim conquests, reaching from present day Pakistan to present day Spain and Portugal.

Languages in northern African and the Middle East belong to the Semitic language group, including Egyptian, Berber and Cushitic.  In addition, the Cushites penetrated as deep down as Uganda.

Persia (Modern-day Iran)
is Semitic not Arab

Many people believe that Iran (known as Persia until 1935) is an Arab country, but it is not.  It is a Semitic country, with a history, language, and culture very distinct from Arab nations.

Religious Significance
Most Semitic speaking tribes acknowledge Abraham, Isaac and Jacob as ancestors, particularly Arab and Jewish tribes.  Jewish, Christian and Islamic faiths are variants of Semitic religious tradition. This makes these faiths known as Abrahamic religions.

Most Emphasized
Meaning Today

Today, the term "semitic" is typically used to refer to Jews, and is misused in terms like "antisemitism" that are supposed to refer to a hostile attitude towards Jews.


Abrahamic Religions
(a bra HAM ick)

Abrahamic religions are those religions, who through their faith in God, acknowledge some form of ancestorship from Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

In order of founding, Judaism, Christianity and Islam are the largest Abrahamic religions in terms of numbers. Others are Rastafari, Samaritanism, Druze faith, Bábism, and the Bahá'í Faith.

Judaism
Abraham is recorded in the Torah as the ancestor of the Israelites through his grandson Jacob, by his son Isaac, born to Sarah.

Christianity
The Christian Old Testament is based upon the Torah, and in this context, Abraham is regarded as a spiritual leader, rather than a direct biological ancestor.

Islam
Abraham is considered to be a prophet and the first Muslim, a “messenger of God” who stands in line from Adam to Muhammad, to whom God gave revelations.

Arabs are considered to be descended from Abraham’s first son, Ishmael, by his concubine, Hagar, in both Jewish and Islamic tradition.

4500 BC
ASIA
MESOPOTAMIA (SUMER)
 
Sumerian Empire
Sumarian God

Sumer
Modern-day Southern Iraq

 

Sumer was the first urban civilization in the historical region of southern Mesopotamia, modern-day southern Iraq. Sumer consisted of the territory along the valleys of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers – Mesopotamia is Greek for “the land between two rivers”.


The Sumerian people were farmers and were able to settle in one place because of the abundance of grain and other crops cultivated in the fertile lands. Along with developing agriculture, they developed trade, and established industries, such as weaving, leatherwork, metalwork, masonry, and pottery.


The term “Sumerian” is the common name given to the ancient non-Semitic-speaking inhabitants of Mesopotamia, Sumer, by the East Semitic-speaking Akkadian. The Sumerians referred to themselves as “the black-headed people”, and to their land as “place of the noble lords”.


In the period from 4000 through 3000 BC (4th millennium BC), Sumer was divided into about a dozen independent city-states, which were divided by canals and boundary stones. Each was centered on a temple dedicated to the particular patron god or goddess of the city and ruled over by a priestly governor (ensi) or by a king (lugal) who was intimately tied to the city's religious rites.

2340 BC
ASIA
MESOPOTAMIA (SUMER)
 
Akkadian Empire
Thought to be Sargon the Great
or his grandson Naram-sin

Sumer Conquered
by Akkadian Ruler
Sargon the Great

About 2340 BC, Sargon the Great, ruler of Akkad, invaded Sumer, his neighbor to the south, creating the first Semitic-speaking empire of Mesopotamia – the Sargonic Dynasty, in what is now the heart of the Middle East.

Location and extent of the Fertile Crescent, consisting of Egypt, the Levant, and Mesopotamia

Shortly after securing Sumer, Sargon embarked on a series of campaigns to subjugate the entire Fertile Crescent. 


1958 BC
ASIA
ISRAEL
 
The Jews

Abraham Leaves
Ur for Canaan
at Yahweh's Command

From Polytheism
to Monotheism
Around 1958 BC, at the command of Yahweh, the one true God, Abraham left Ur, in Mesopotamia, for Canaan, near modern-day Palestine. 


According to the Old Testament, God promised Abraham that He would protect and guide him and his descendants forever.  Those descendants, the chosen of God, were the Hebrews, or Israelites, or Jews.

1760 BC
ASIA
MESOPOTAMIA (SUMER)
 
Babylonian Empire (Amorites)
The Akkadian Empire Falls

Hammurabi
6th King of 1st Babylonia Dynasty

Sumer Conquered
by Hammurabi the Amorite: 
Babylonian Empire Expands

Within about two centuries, rule of the Akkadian Empire began to crumble, eventually falling by the conquest of the Amorite king Hammurabi, in 1760 BC. 

From left, two Nubians, a Philistine, an Amorite, a Syrian and a Hittite. 

The Amorites, also called Amurru or Martu, were Semitic-speaking people who dominated the history of ancient Mesopotamia, Syria, and Palestine, where they established several prominent city states, the most prominent being Babylon, ruled by Hammurabi.

Nabu, Amorite God

The Amorites were tribal nomads, known as fierce warriors, who forced themselves into lands that they needed.  By the time of Hammurabi's accession to the throne, the kings of Babylon had begun to enlarge the state's borders by conquering the Amorite cities of Dilbat, Borsippa, Kish, and Sippar.


Death, Slavery 
and Deportation
Hammurabi continued the attacks and pattern of conquering and acquiring territories, removing all political opposition from the territory, until Babylon was raised from a small administrative town to an independent state and major city.

Babylonia territory upon Hammurabi's ascension in 1792 BC and upon his death in 1750 BC

Southern Mesopotamia
Becomes Babylonia
For a short period, Babylon became a major power in the ancient world, and it was from this period that southern Mesopotamia came to be known as Babylonia, a new empire encompassing all of southern Mesopotamia and, along the Euphrates, extending well to the north.

Brutality and
Law and Order
Babylon rulership under Hammurabi was often brutal, but he also created created the first enduring set of laws, the so-called Code of Hammurabi, covering many aspects of human behavior in society, ranging from rules of trade and commerce to criminal matters. Among the most enduring principles in the code is the concept known in Latin as lex talionis, the “law of retaliation,” a principle the authors of the Old Testament book of Leviticus (24: 19– 20) called “eye for eye, tooth for tooth.” Lex talionis has been influential throughout civilization, but it remains particularly durable in many cultures of the Middle East and some have seen in it a trigger of the present-day conflict in the region.


1720 BC
ASIA
MESOPOTAMIA (SUMER)
 
The Assyrians
Babylonian Empire Falls


Assyria Ends
Babylonian-Amorite
Influence in Northern Mesopotamia

To the north of Babylonia lay three cities along the Tigris— Assur, Nineveh, and Nimrud, in the same territory as modern northern Iraq, northeastern Syria, southeastern Turkey, and the northwestern fringes of Iran.  The first of these, Assur, gave its name to Assyria, an empire dominated for many years by the more powerful Babylonians. 

 Location of Assyria

Beginning in 1740 BC, the Assyrians began to weaken Babylonian influence in these cities and all of northern Mesopotamia, driving out Babylonian rulers and replacing them with their own rulers.  They suffered through a civil war until they were able to defeat the Babylonians and end Babylonia-Amorite influence in the territory.

Ultimately, the Assyrians came to rule powerful empires, extending their dominion into the western part of present-day Iran, northern Turkey, and as far south as Thebes, in Egypt

1690 BC
ASIA
CANAAN (MODERN-DAY PALESTINE)
 
The Jews
Enslaved in Egypt for 400 Years

Abraham and His Tribes:
Drought Forces Migration
From Canaan to Egypt
(and into Eventual Slavery)

Abraham and his tribe settle east of the delta in Goshen.  After a period of well-being, the pharaoh of Egypt brings the Jews into slavery to build pyramids and other monuments.

The enslavement of the Jews lasts 400 years, until the arrival of Moses to helf fulfill the covenant Yahweh made with Abraham.

1250 BC
AFRICA
EGYPT
 
The Jews
Freed by Moses and
Fight 200 Years for Promised Land

Moses Leads Jews
Out of Egyptian Slavery

For 40 years, the Jews live in 12 loosely confederated (allied) tribes in the Sinai wilderness until God summoned Moses to Mount Sinai and gave him the Ten Commandments, which became the basis of the Hebrew Torah, the primary text of Judaism.

The Promised Land
From the wilderness, Moses led his people back to Canaan (Palestine), "The Promised Land", the land designated by God as being for the Jews and the Jews alone.  However, Canaan was occupied by Hittites, Amorites, and others.

200 Year Battle for Canaan
In the book of Exodus, it says that God commanded the Hebrews to wage war on the interlopers, even to the point of extermination. And fight they did.  For more than 200 years, the Jews fought the Canaanites, first under King Saul and then under King David.

1051 BC
ASIA
CANAAN (MODERN-DAY PALESTINE)
 
The Jews
United Kingdom of Israel
Saul
1st King of Israel

According to the Hebrew Bible, Saul was made  the first king of a united Kingdom of Israel and Judah. He was anointed to power by the prophet Samuel and reigned from Gibeah.

Military Battles
Saul conducted many military campaigns,  namely against the: Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, and the kings of Zobah, the Philistines, and the Amalekite.

Bad News from
the Prophet Samuel
about God's Displeasure

Saul planned a military action against the Philistines, and traditionally, sacred rituals were performed prior to battle. However, Saul grew impatient waiting for the prophet Samuel to arrive, and offered a sacrifice on his own. Upon Samuel's arrival, Saul was reprimanded for taking his course of action.

Later, Samuel instructed Saul to make war on the Amalekites, and informed him that the Kenites, who lived among them had already been warned to leave. Saul goes to war as instructed and defeats the Amalekites, killing every man, woman, child and poor quality livestock. But Saul does not kill the king and leaving him unharmed with his best livestock.

When Samuel learns tht Saul did not kill everyone, he informs Saul that God has rejected him as king, due to his disobedience. Samuel, upon leaving, prophecies that the kingdom will be torn from him.

Samuel then goes and kills the Amalekite king himself 1 Samuel 15:33 and leaves.

Saul and David
According to the Bible, in 1 Samuel, the prophet Samuel "annoints" David, son of Jesse.  And later, at King Saul's request, David is sent to Saul, who appoints him as his armor bearer and personal harpest, because of David's skill in playing the harp.

David and Goliath
The Philistines return with an army to attack Israel, and the Philistine's champion, Goliath issues a challenge for single combat. Because David, delivering food to his brothers, was overheard mocking the Philistines, Saul appointed David as his champion to fight Goliath. David easily defeatrf Goliath with a single shot from a sling.

Saul Feels Threatened by David
After David's victory over Goliath, Saul offered his oldest daughter, Merab, as a wife to the now popular David, but David declined, although he did accept his offer when a second daughter was offered.

Because everyone seemed to regard David as a greater warrior than Saul, he began to fear David's growing popularity as a threat to his throne.

David is forced to flee from Saul because of several attempts upon his life.  However, with the help of Saul's son, Jonathan, he attempts resolution many time.  

He had a strong ally in Saul's son Jonathan, with whom he had become close friends.  Jonathan recognized David as the rightful king, and "made a covenant with David, because he loved him as his own soul." Jonathan even gave David his military clothes, symbolizing David's position as successor to Saul.  However, Jonathan was killed.

Saul's Suicide
Saul fell on his sword (committing suicide) to avoid capture in the battle against the Philistines at Mount Gilboa, during which three of his sons were also killed.

Battle for the Throne
After Saul's death death, his only surviving son, Ish-bosheth, had to compete with Saul's son-in-law David, for the throne, and it was David who prevailed.

1010 BC
ASIA
CANAAN (MODERN-DAY PALESTINE)
 
The Jews
United Kingdom of Israel
David
King of Israel
Son of Jesse
Son-in-Law of Saul

A Man After God's Own Heart
The Bible says that David was "a man after God's own heart" (1 Samuel 13:14) and to this day, he is regarded as a great king, despite a sinner.

God made a promise to David in 2 Samuel 7,  that one of his own offspring would sit upon the throne and that the throne of his kingdom would be established forever. Verse 16 says, "Your house and your kingdom shall be made sure forever before me. Your throne shall be established forever."

United Kingdom of Israel
King David led a decisive victory against the Philistines, the most formidable remnants of the nations still in Canaan contesting possession of the Israelites.  

After this victory, David reformed the Kingdom of Israel out of the 12 disparate tribes that had settled in Canaan into the United Kingdom of Israel.  He also conquered and took Canaanite city of Jerusalem from the Jebusites to make it the capital of the United Kingdom of Israel, renaming it the "City of David".

After his death, he was succeeded by his son, Solomon.



970 BC
ASIA
CANAAN(MODERN-DAY PALESTINE)
 
The Jews
United Kingdom of Israel
King Solomon solid gold death mask

Solomon
King of Israel
Son of David

According to the Bible, Solomon (also called Jedidiah), was the wealthy and wise King of Israel and a son of David. In the Qur'an, of Islam, he is considered a major prophet, and Muslims generally refer to him by the Arabic variant Sulayman, son of David. Solomon, according to the Qur'an, a king of ancient Israel as well as the son of David.

Builds First Temple
in Jerusalem
The Hebrew Bible credits Solomon as the builder of the First Temple in Jerusalem.  It goes on to portray him as a man with great wisdom, wealth, and power, beyond any of the previous kings of the country, but ultimately as a human king who sinned.

Wives and Concubines
According to the Bible, Solomon had 700 wives and 300 concubines. The wives were described as foreign princesses, including Pharaoh's daughter and women of Moab, Ammon, Sidon and of the Hittites. The only wife mentioned by name is Naamah the Ammonite, mother of Solomon's successor, Rehoboam. The Biblical narrative notes with disapproval that Solomon permitted his foreign wives to import their national deities, building temples to Ashtoreth and Milcom.

Solomon and the Ethiopian Queen of Sheba
The Hebrew Bible describes how the fame of Solomon's wisdom and wealth spread far and wide, so much so that the queen of Sheba decided that she should meet him. The queen is described as visiting with a number of gifts including gold, spices and precious stones. When Solomon gave her "all her desire, whatsoever she asked," she left satisfied (1 Kings 10:10).

An Ethiopian account from the 1300s (Kebra Nagast) maintains that the Queen of Sheba had sexual relations with King Solomon and gave birth by the Mai Bella stream in the province of Hamasien, Eritrea. The Ethiopian tradition has a detailed account of the affair. The child was a son who went on to become Menelik I, King of Axum, and founded a dynasty that would reign as the first Jewish, then Christian Empire of Ethiopia for 2,900+ years (less one usurpation episode, an interval of c. 133 years until a legitimate male heir regained the crown) until Haile Selassie was overthrown in 1974.

Menelik was said to be a practicing Jew who was given a replica of the Ark of the Covenant by King Solomon; and, moreover, that the original was switched and went to Axum with him and his mother, and is still there, guarded by a single priest charged with caring for the artifact as his life's task.

The claim of such a lineage and of possession of the Ark has been an important source of legitimacy and prestige for the Ethiopian monarchy throughout the many centuries of its existence, and had important and lasting effects on Ethiopian culture as a whole. The Ethiopian government and church deny all requests to view the alleged ark.

Some classical-era Rabbis, attacking Solomon's moral character, have claimed instead that the child was an ancestor of Nebuchadnezzar II, who destroyed Solomon's temple some 300 years later.

931 BC
ASIA
CANAAN (MODERN-DAY PALESTINE)
 
The Jews
United Kingdom of Israel Splits

Kingdom of Israel
&
Kingdom of Judah

According to the Hebrew Bible, Solomon is the last ruler of the United Kingdom of Israel.

After Solomon's death, his son, Rehoboam, succeeded to the throne. However, 10 of the Tribes of Israel refused to accept him as king, and shortly after, the United Kingdom of Israel split apart into the northern Kingdom of Israel and the southern Kingdom of Judah.

Jeroboam (Tribe of Ephraim) ruled over the northern Kingdom of Israel, and Rohoboam (and all of other descendants of Soloman), ruled over the much smaller southern Kingdom of Judah.

The two kingdoms never again united.

Cause of Split
According to the Bible, that although Solomon was a great man, his sins of idolatry and turning away from Yahweh, led to the breakup of the United Kingdom of Israel was retribution during the reign of his son, Rehoboam.

911 BC
ASIA
MESOPOTAMIA
 
The Assyrians
Neo-Assyrian Empire


Neo-Assyrian Empire Emerges
in Mesopotamia

Mesopotamia
Mesopotamia in modern days roughly corresponding to most of Iraq plus Kuwait, the eastern parts of Syria, and regions along the Turkish-Syrian and Iran–Iraq borders.
The Neo-Assyrian Empire succeeded the Old Assyrian Empire (2025-1750 BC), and the Middle Assyrian Empire (1365-1050 BC) of the Late Bronze Age. During this period, Aramaic was also made an official language of the empire, alongside the Akkadian language.

Assyria emerged as the most powerful state in the known world at the time, coming to dominate the Ancient Near East, East Mediterranean, Asia Minor, Caucasus, and parts of the Arabian peninsula and North Africa, eclipsing and conquering rivals such as Babylonia, Elam, Persia, Urartu, Lydia, the Medes, Phrygians, Cimmerians, Israel, Judah, Phoenicia, Chaldea, Canaan, the Kushite Empire, the Arabs, and Egypt.

858 BC
ASIA
MESOPOTAMIA (ASSYRIA)
 
The Assyrians
Neo-Assyrian Empire


Shalmaneser III
King of Assyria
Son of Assurnasirpal II
Expands Assyrian Empire

War Lord and Reign of Terror
Based upon cuneiform records, Shalmaneser acceded to the throne on the death of his father and predecessor, Assurnasirpal II. Shortly after his accession Shalmaneser set out on his first campaign, and these military exploits set the tone for the remainder of his reign. The king campaigned every year, sometimes more than once. Altogether, thirty-five campaigns are recorded in his inscriptions. They took him all over the Near East and far beyond the borders of Assyria.  Assyrian dominance brought a reign of terror.

Defeat of Northern Syria
The Black Obelisk of Shalmaneser II is a black limestone bas-relief sculpture, that form a record of King Shalmanser’s III military campaigns. Here, the Asssyrian king receives tribute from Sua, king of Gilzanu

Much of Shalmaneser's campaigning took place in northern Syria, across the Euphrates river, which represented the western boundary of the Assyrian empire at this time. This region was important because it allowed access to the trade-rich Mediterranean as well as to the prized cedar groves of Lebanon. But it was also the center of an anti-Assyrian coalition led by Ahunu, the ruler of Bit-Adini, a kingdom whose capital, Til-Barsip, lay just east of the Euphrates. Ahunu had been a vassal of Shalmaneser’s father, Assurnasirpal II, but now saw the accession Shalmaneser as an opportunity to regain his independence. He rallied a number of powerful states to his cause. Shalmaneser defeated these troops, but Ahunu continued to resist for three more years, until his city was captured by Shalmaneser, who renamed it Kar-Shalmaneser.

Defeat of Southern Syria
Shalmaneser now turned his attention to southern Syria. In 853 BC he pillaged three cities belonging to Irhuleni, king of Hamath, and torched his royal city Qarqar on theOrontes river. Shalmaneser was then confronted by yet another anti-Assyrian alliance. Led by Irhuleni and Adda-idri, king of Damascus, and supported by twelve other rulers, its combined forces included 1,000 camels belonging to Gindibu'u the Arab (from the Syrian desert) and 1,000 footsoldiers from Egypt. Shalmaneser fought against them on several occasions before finally defeating them in 845 BC.  In 841 BC Shalmaneser marched against and defeated Damascus.


Shalmaneser’s Administrative Reforms
Shalmaneser's expansion of Assyria's borders in the north and north-east prompted certain administrative reforms. These were designed to deal with the specific challenges of defending the newly-added territories from external threats. The king's solution was to entrust the new provinces to his most trusted military officials, chosen among the so-called magnates. In this way, he could ensure that the governors remained loyal and could be relied on to rally their troops quickly in the event of a conflict. The same practice was also adopted by Sargon II a century later.

745 BC
ASIA
MESOPOTAMIA (ASSYRIA)
 
The Assyrians
Neo-Assyrian Empire

Tiglath-Pileser III
Establishes Neo-Assyrian Kingdom
as a true empire.

Tiglath-Pileser III Akkadian
King of Assyria and
Babylonia
Usurps Royal Throne

Tiglath-Pileser III seized the Assyrian throne during a civil war and killed the royal family. He made sweeping changes to the Assyrian government, considerably improving its efficiency and security. He introduced advanced civil, military, and political systems into the Neo-Assyrian Empire. He is one of the greatest military commanders in world history, conquering most of the world known to the Assyrians before his death.

Professional Standing Army Created
The Assyrian army, already the greatest fighting force in the world since the time of Ashur-uballit I (1366–1330 BCE), now became Assyria's first professional standing army.


Dominance of the Middle East
Tiglath-Pileser III subjugated much of the Near East region; to the south, his fellow Mesopotamians in Babylonia and Chaldea, and further south still, the Arabs, Magan, Meluhha, and Dilmunites of the Arabian Peninsula. In the south west, Israel, Judah, Philistia, Samarra, Moab, Edom, the Suteans and Nabatea fell. He also ruled over cities in the North, and must of easter and south western Asia Minor. In the west, the Greeks of Cyprus and Aram (modern Syria), and the Mediterranean City States of Phoenicia/Caanan were subjugated. To the east he subjugated Persia, Media, Gutium, Mannea, Cissia and Elam, and later in his reign, Tiglath-Pileser III was crowned king in Babylonia.

Deportation of Detractors
Tiglath-Pileser III discourage revolts against Assyrian rule with the use of forced deportations of thousands of people all over the empire.

Control of Babylon
In 729 BC, Tiglath-Pileser assumed total control of Babylon, capturing the Babylonian king Nabu-mukin-seri and crowned himself King Pulu of Babylon.

727 BC
ASIA
MESOPOTAMIA (ASSYRIA)
 
The Assyrians
Neo-Assyrian Empire

Shalmaneser V
King of Assyria
Son of Tiglath-Pileser III
and the 
Ten Lost Tribes of Israel

Shalmaneser V, formerly Ululayu, succeeded to the throne of Assyria, after the death of his father, Tiglath-Pileser III. Upon taking the throne, Shalmaneser changed his name from Ululayu to the Akkadian name of Shalmaneser, as used in the Bible. The Bible attributes the final conquest of the kingdom of Samaria (Israel) and the deportation of the Israelites is attributed to him, at 2 Kings 17-18.

After a three year siege, Shalmaneser took the city of Samaria, although they were being aided by Egyptians who also had an interest in Israel. Immediately after taking control, he deported many of the people to various lands of the empire, (together with ones deported about ten years earlier by Tiglath-Pileser III) are known as the "Ten Lost Tribes" of Israel. And the populations that he settled in Samaria, according to the Bible, were the origin of the Samaritans.

722 BC
ASIA
MESOPOTAMIA (ASSYRIA)
 
The Assyrians
Neo-Assyrian Empire

Sargon II
King of Assyria
Son of Tiglath-Pileser III
Brings Empire to
Height of Power

Sargon II was the son of Tiglath-Pileser III and the younger brother of Shalmaneser V. He was given the name of Sargon II in modern times to distinguish him from the Old Assyrian king Sargon 1 and still-older Akkadian ruler Sargon the Elder. It appears that late in life, he seized the throne from his brother Shalmaneser V, with the help of his son, the crown prince, Sennacherib.

Campaigns Against Rebellions
There was widespread rebellions at the beginning of his rule. A chieftain of the Chaldean tribes of the south, Marduk-apla-iddina II, declared himself king of Babylon and was crowned king in 721 BC. The following year, Sargo met his forces in battle, on the plains east of Babylon. With the help of Elamite troops, Marduk-apla-iddina II was able to push back the Assyrian army to retain control of the south and the title of King of Babylon.

Much of Sargon's II rule involved putting down rebellions and plundering and burning through cities as he progressed.

Conquest of Israel:
Hebrews (Jews) Deported

from Kingdom of Israel
Under his rule, the Assyrians completed the defeat of the Kingdom of Israel and the caputring of Samaria.  Sargon II, as cultural tradition, enslaved and deported the Jews from the Kingdom of Israel.

Note: In the modern-era, some DNA studies refute any connection between modern-day ethnic Jews and most of the ethnic groups considered to be of the Lost Tribe of Israel.

Campaign against Babylonia
In 710 BC Sargon felt safe enough in his rule to move against his Babylonian arch-enemy Marduk-apla-iddina II. One army moved against Elam and its new king Shutur-Nahhunte II to prevent them from supplying aid to Marduk-apla-iddina; the other, under Sargon himself, proceeded against Babylon. Babylon yielded to Sargon and he was proclaimed king of Babylonia in 710, thus restoring the dual monarchy of Babylonia and Assyria. He remained in Babylon for three years; in 709 BC, he led the new-year procession as king of Babylon.

Assyria Reaches Height
of Its Power

In 710 BC, the seven Greek kings of Ia' (Cyprus) accepted Assyrian sovereignty; in 709, Midas, king of Phrygia submitted to Assyrian rule and in 708 BC, Kummuhu (Commagene) became an Assyrian province.

Marriages and
Administration of Territories
Sargon II appointed many loyal to him as overseers of the territories claimed. He left his son, crown-prince Sennacherib in the south, married to the Aramean (Syrian) noblewoman Naqui'a, to pacify the Aramaic and Chaldean tribes of the lower Euphrates as well as the Suti nomads.

705 BC
ASIA
MESOPOTAMIA (ASSYRIA)
 
The Assyrians
Neo-Assyrian Empire
Sennacherib during his Babylonian war,
relief from his palace in Nineveh

Sennacherib
King of Assyria
Son of Sargon II
Destroys Babylon

Sennacherib was the grandson of Tiglath-pileser III, and succeeded the throne of this father, Sargon II. He is principally remembered for his military campaigns against Babylon and Judah, and for his building programs - most notably at the Akkadian capital of Nineveh.

He was also a notable builder: it was under him that Assyrian art reached its peak. His building projects included the beautification of Nineveh, a canal 50 km long to bring water to the city, and the "Palace Without Rival".

Constant Rebellions and Uprising
Sennacherib was oppossed and challenged by his territory holdings immediately upon ascending to the throne.

The Babylonian Problem
The primary preoccupation of Sennacherib's reign was the so-called "Babylonian problem", the refusal of the Babylonians to accept Assyrian rule.

Destruction of Babylon
While his father, Sargon II, dealt with the Babylonian problem by cultivating the Babylonians, Sennacherib took a predominantly military approach, culminating in his complete destruction of Babylon 689 BC. He destroyed the temples and the images of the gods, except for that of Marduk, the creator-god and divine patron of Babylon, which he took to Assyria. His actions sparked intense hatred in Babylon, eventually leading to a war for independence and the destruction of Assyria.

Quest for Dominance
Further campaigns were carried out in Syria (notable for being recorded in the Bible's Books of Kings, in the mountains east of Assyria, against the kingdoms of Anatolia and against the Arabs in the northern Arabian deserts. His death was welcomed in Babylon as divine punishment for the destruction of that city.

681 BC
ASIA
MESOPOTAMIA (ASSYRIA)
 
The Assyrians
Neo-Assyrian Empire
Assyrian King Esarhaddon
This is a cast mold of the original huge stele (stone slab bas-relief) of the Assyrian King.

Esarhaddon
King of Assyria
Son of Sennacherib

Esarhaddon was king of the Neo-Assyrian Empire, reigning from 681 – 669 BC.  He was the youngest son of Sennacherib, but not of his queen, Tashmetum-sharrat.  He is said to be the son of a "palace woman" called Zakutu, "the pure", but known by her native name, Naqi’a.  His mother was considered to be his second wife, or concubine.  Esarhaddon is best known for his conquest of Egypt in 671 BC. 

Rise to Power
When, despite being the youngest son, Esarhaddon was named successor by his father, his elder brothers tried to discredit him. Oracles had named him as the person to free the exiles and rebuild Babylon.  Esarhaddon remained crown prince, but was forced into exile.

Biblical Accounts
The biblical account is that Esarhaddon's brothers killed their father after the failed attempt to capture Jerusalem and fled to the land of Ararat (2 Kings 19:37). He returned to the capital of Nineveh in forced marches and defeated his rival brothers in six weeks of civil war. He was formally declared king in the spring of 681 BC. His brothers fled the land, and their followers and families were put to death. In the same year he began the rebuilding of Babylon, including the well-known Esagila and the Ekur at Nippur (structures sometimes identified with the Tower of Babel). The statues of the Babylonian gods were restored and returned to the city. To appear nor too biased in favor of Babylonia, he ordered the reconstruction of the Assyrian sanctuary of Esharra inAshur as well. Foreigners were forbidden to enter the temple. Both buildings were dedicated almost on the same date, the second year of his reign.

Assyrian Kings: A Constant
Battle Against Rebellion

As with all Assyrians kings, the primary focus during Esarhaddon’s reign was to put down rebellions to Assyrian rule and refusals to pay tribute.  He went to war, mostly victorious, all throughout the Middle East.

Death
On a trip to restore order in Egypt, Esarhaddon died in 669 BC.  He was succeeded by his son Ashurbanipal as king of Assyria, and his younger son Shamash-shun-unkin as king of Babylonia.

678 BC
ASIA
MESOPOTAMIA (PERSIA)
 
The Iranians
The Median Empire

Mede soldier in traditional Mede costume (behind Persian soldier)

1st Iranian Kingdom
Medes People Dominate Persia (Modern-day Iran)
 
The Medes were one of three semitic speaking, pastoral tribes, distinguised by their dialect, that occupied west and north-west of what is now Iran.  Economically, the Medes were primarily focused on breeding horses, cows, sheep, and sometimes goats. They were known as the best horse breeders of their time. They also excelled in metallurgy, especially iron work, and built the strongest and fastest chariots of the time. 


In 678, they dominated this Persia, which was bordered by the Assyrian Empire in the west.  And, during this period, the Medes, Persians and other Iranic peoples of northern and western Iran were subject to Assyria.  Over the course of time, they organized several revolts against Assyrian authority. Eventually, through treaty, the Medes became became allies of the Neo-Babylonians in the defeat the Assyrians.


Among the most historically famous of the Medes were the Magi (Mogh) who in their position as the hereditary priests, later played an important role in the development of Zoroastrianism.

668 BC
ASIA
MESOPOTAMIA (ASSYRIA)
 
The Assyrians
Neo-Assyrian Empire

Ashurbanipal
King of Assyria
Son of Esarhaddon
Last Strong Assyrian King

Esarhaddon had prepared for the accession of his son by imposing a vassal treaty upon his Persian, Median and Parthian subjects, ensuring that they accepted Ashurbanipal's dominance in advance. He had also rebuilt Babylon and set up another of his sons Shamash-shum-ukin to rule there, subject to his brother Ashurbanipal in Nineveh.

Early Life
Ashurbanipal was not intended to be king, but the heir to the throne, his brother, died prematurely. In fulfillment of his intended role, Ashurbanipal was trained in scholarly pursuits as well as the usual horsemanship, hunting, chariotry, soldiery, craftsmanship, and royal decorum. In a unique autobiographical statement, Ashurbanipal specified his youthful scholarly pursuits as having included oil divination, mathematics, and reading and writing; he was able to read and write in Sumerian, Akkadian and Aramaic.  

He is famed for amassing a significant collection of cuneiform documents for his royal palace at Nineveh. This collection, known as the Library of Ashurbanipal, is now housed at the British Museum.

Popular But Cruel Leader
Despite being a popular king among his subjects, he was also known for his cruelty to his enemies. Some pictures depict him putting a dog chain through the jaw of a defeated Arab king and then making him live in a dog kennel. Many paintings of the period exhibit his brutality, however Assyrian harshness was reserved solely for those who took up arms against the Assyrian king, and neither Ashurbanipal nor his predecessors conducted genocides, massacres or ethnic cleansings against civilian populations.

Assyria: Largest Empire
the World Had Seen
Assyria was the largest empire the world had yet seen, stretching from The Caucasus in the north to North Africa and the Arabian peninsula in the south, and from Cyprus and the east Mediterranean in the west, to central Iran in the east.

Few Problems for Ashurbanipal
Ashurbanipal enjoyed the subjugation of a myriad of nations and peoples, including; Babylon, Chaldea, Media, Persia, Egypt, Libya, Elam, Gutium, Parthia, Cissia, Phrygia, Mannea, Corduene, Aramea, Urartu, Lydia, Cilicia, Commagene, Caria, Cappadocia, Phoenicia, Canaan, the Suteans, Sinai, Israel, Judah, Samarra, Moab, Edom, Ammon, Nabatea, Arabia, the Neo-Hittites, Dilmun, Meluhha, Nubia, Scythia, Cimmeria, Armenia and Cyprus, with few problems during Ashurbanipal's reign.

Few Rebellions Remaining
Ashurbanipal inherited the ongoing war in Egypt with Kush/Nubia. His father had ended Egyptian interference in the Near East, destroyed the Kushite Empire, driven the Kushites/Nubians from Egypt, and conquered Egypt and Libya. However the Nubians still had ambitions to regain control of Egypt and resurrect their empire.

Ashurbanipal sent an army against them in 667 BC that defeated the Nubian king Taharqa.

End of Assyrian Empire Looms
During the final two decades of Ashurbanipal's rule, Assyria was peaceful and its dominance went unchallenged, but the country apparently faced an underlying decline due to over-expansion, the lack of funds from its devastated colonies, and insufficient troops to govern its vast empire.

After Ashurbanipal's death in 627 BC he was succeeded by Ashur-etil-ilani.

627 BC
ASIA
MESOPOTAMIA (ASSYRIA)
 
The Assyrians
Neo-Assyrian Empire

Ashur-Etil-Ilani
King of Assyria
Son of  Ashurbanipal

Ashur-Etil-Ilani succeeded his father, Ashurbanipal, considered to be the "last strong leader" of Assyria.  During the final two decades of his father's rule, Assyria began to face an infrastructure decline due to over-expansion, the lack of funds from its devastated colonies, and insufficient troops to govern its vast empire.

After Ashur-Etil-Ilani came to the throne, Assyria soon descended into a series of internal civil wars that would ultimately lead to its downfall.

Ashur-Etil-Ilani
Deposed by Military Coup
Ashur-etil-ilani was deposed as ruler of the empire in 623 BC by a general named Sin-shumu-lishir who was also declared king of Babylon.


626 BC
ASIA
MESOPOTAMIA (ASSYRIA)
 
The Babylonians
Neo-Assyrian Empire Falls
Assyrians skinning or flaying their prisoners alive


Fall of the Assyrian Empire

Civil Wars
The Assyrian Empire was severely crippled following the death of Ashurbanipal in 627 BC—the nation and its empire descending into a prolonged and brutal series of civil wars involving three rival kings, Ashur-etil-ilani, Sin-shumu-lishir and Sin-shar-ishkun. Egypt's 26th Dynasty, which had been installed by the Assyrians as vassals, quietly detached itself from Assyria, although it was careful to retain friendly relations.

Assyrian Colonies Raided
The Scythians and Cimmerians took advantage of the bitter fighting among the Assyrians to raid Assyrian colonies, with hordes of horse borne marauders ravaging parts of Asia Minor and the Caucasus, where the vassal kings of Urartu and Lydia begged their Assyrian overlord for help in vain. They also raided the Levant, Israel and Judah (where Ashkelon was sacked by the Scythians) and all the way into Egypt whose coasts were ravaged and looted with impunity.

Iranic People Unify Against Assyria
The Iranic peoples (the Medes, Persians and Parthians) also took advantage of the upheavals in Assyria to unify into a powerful Median dominated force which destroyed the Assyrian vassal kingdom of Mannea and absorbed the remnants of southern Iran, and the equally pre-Iranic Gutians, Manneans and Kassites of the Zagros Mountains and the Caspian Sea.

Assyria Struggling for Survival
Cyaxares (technically a vassal of Assyria), in an alliance with the Scythians and Cimmerians, launched a surprise attack on a civil war beleaguered Assyria in 615 BC, sacking Kalhu (the Biblical Calah/Nimrud) and taking Arrapkha (modern Kirkuk) and Gasur.

Despite the loss of almost all of its major cities, and in the face of overwhelming odds, Assyrian resistance continued under Ashur-uballit II (612-605 BC), who fought his way out of Nineveh and joined Assyrian forces around Harran (in modern south east Turkey), Carchemish (modern Jarablus in north east Syria) and in the vassal kingdom of Urartu (in modern north eastern Turkey).

Assyria Falls
In the year 612 BCE, Niniveh fell to the combined forces of the Babylonians and Medes. Haran, Ashur-uballit's last stronghold, was taken in 610, ending the Assyrian empire.

616 BC
ASIA
MESOPOTAMIA (BABYLONIA)
 
The Babylonians
Neo-Babylonian Empire

Nabopolassar
King of Babylon
Rise of the
Neo-Babylonian Empire

For over 300 years, Babylonia had been ruled by their fellow Akkadian speakers and northern neighbours, Assyria.   However, one year after the death of the last strong Assyrian ruler, Assurbanipal, in 627 BC, the Assyrian empire spiralled into a series of brutal civil wars.

Babylonia rebelled under Nabopolassar, a member of the Chaldean tribe which had migrated from the eastern Mediterranean to settle in south eastern Babylonia in the early 9th century BC.  And, in alliance with the Medes, Persians, Scythians and Cimmerians, they sacked the city of Nineveh, the capital of Assyria, in 612 BC.  After gaining victory, Nabopolassar took control of the seat of the empire and crowned himself king, beginning the Neo-Babylonian Empire.  This transfer of power represented the first time, since the death of Hammurabi in the mid-18th century BC that Babylonia experienced indepence and ruled over Mesopotamia.

Renaissance
and Reverance of the Past
After this conquest, the period saw a general improvement in economic life and agricultural production, and a great flourishing of architectural projects, the arts and science.

The Neo-Babylonian rulers began to reestablish their ancient cultural traditions and language patterns, reviving much of the ancient Sumero-Akkadian culture. Even though Aramaic had become the everyday tongue, Akkadian was retained as the language of administration and culture. Archaic expressions from 1500 years earlier were reintroduced in Akkadian inscriptions, along with words in the long-unspoken Sumerian language. Neo-Babylonian cuneiform script was also modified to make it look like the old 3rd-millennium BC script of Akkad.

Ancient artworks from the heyday of Babylonia's imperial glory were treated with near-religious reverence and were painstakingly preserved.

604 BC
ASIA
MESOPOTAMIA (BABYLONIA)
 
The Babylonians
Neo-Babylonian Empire
Nebuchadnezzar II
Brings Babylonia Empire to Its Peak

Nebuchadnezzar II
King of Babylon
Son of Nabopolassar
 
Under Nebuchadnezzar, Babylon became an international economic powerhouse. 

Picking Up Where
His Father Left Off

Nebuchadnezzar fought against the remnants of the Assyrian army, completing the defeat of the Assyrian Empire. And, in the course of his reign over the Neo-Babylonia Empire, led the conquest of Egypt, Syria, and Palestine.

Religion
Babylonian religion was polytheistic, but introduced an element common to Judaism, Christianity, and Islam -- concer for the individual relationship between human beings and the divine, and the essential inferiority of human beings.

However, in the Old Testament of the Bible, the book of Daniel relates, Nebuchadnezzar destroyed Jerusalem, together with Solomon’s Temple (the First Temple).





550 BC
ASIA
MESOPOTAMIA (PERSIA)
 
The Iranians
The Persian Achaemenid Empire
King Cyrus the Great
Rises to Power
The Persian Empire Begins

Persia vs Iran
The area called "Persia" was given that name by the Greeks.  The people who inhabited the region, however, called it  "Iran" or "Iran-Shahr". They never called themselves or their region by the foreign word widely circulated and made popular by the Greeks.

In the modera era of 1935, Reza Shah (the first Shah of the last Dynasty before the revolution) demanded that Iran be recognized correctly as Iran.

Cyrus the Great Forms
Largest Empire in the World
In 559 BC, Cyrus III ascended the throne of Persia’s Achaemenid Dynasty.  His father was a Persian and his mother a Median princess. 

Around 550 BC, Cyrus rebelled against his grandfather, the Median king.  This rebellion led to “Cyrus the Great” conquering first the Median Empire, and then the Lydian Empire. 

He led an expedition into central Asia, which resulted in major campaigns that were described as having brought "into subjection every nation without exception".  Eventually defeated and captured the Neo-Babylonian Empire.  He created the largest empire the world had yet seen.

Centralized Administration
Of Largest Empire in the World
Cyrus the Great respected the customs and religions of the lands he conquered. Under his rule, the empire embraced all the previous civilized states.  His tolerance became a very successful model for centralized administration and establishing a government that works to the advantage and profit of its subjects.

In fact, the administration of the empire through satraps ( governors or local rulers) and the vital principle of forming a government at Pasargadae, the capital of the Achaemenid Empire, were the works of Cyrus.



539 BC
ASIA
MESOPOTAMIA (BABYLONIA)
 
The Iranians
The Persian Achaemenid Empire
Neo-Babylonian Empire Falls

Cyrus the Great
Takes Babylon
Jewish People Allowed
to Return to Israel


x

530 BC
ASIA
MESOPOTAMIA (PERSIA)
 
The Iranians
The Persian Achaemenid Empire

Cambyses II
King of Persia
Son of Cyrus II

Cambyses II, viewed as a tyrant, a mad man , succeeded to the throne after the death of his father, Cyrus II.

Cambyses’ reign was successful: every square mile of real estate acquired by Cyrus II was retained, and to that already great empire, Phoenicia was added by treaty and Egypt by conquest, extending the Persian Empire.

Conquering Egypt
Cambyses II’s first military action was to invade Egypt. In 525 BCE, the Persian forces invaded Egypt and conquered the last remaining threat to Persian dominance.

In this conquest, Cambyses received help from Cambyses received assistance from Polycrates of Samos; from Phanes, a Greek general in the Egyptian army who gave him valuable military information; and from the Arabs, who provided water for the crossing of the Sinai Desert. After Cambyses had won the Battle of Pelusium (in 525) in the Nile Delta and had captured Heliopolis and Memphis, Egyptian resistance collapsed.

Cambyses, like his father, was merciful to the people and the gods of Egypt. He did not massacre, enslave, or deport the Egyptian inhabitants; instead, he welcomed them as fellow Persians.

522 BC
ASIA
MESOPOTAMIA (PERSIA)
 
The Iranians
The Persian Achaemenid Empire
Behistun Inscription by Darius 

Darius I
King of Persia
Usurps Royal Throne

Behistun Inscription
The Behistun Inscription is an inscription by Darius, written in three different cuneiform script languages: Old Persian, Elamite, and Babylonian. It is a personal autobiography of Darius' life, and an account of the sequence of social events and battles foughts, prior to and during his era.

This "document" was used as a key document in deciphering cuneiform script. The translation of the Old Persian sections paved the way to the subsequent ability to decipher the Elamite and Babylonian parts of the text, which greatly promoted the development of modern Assyriology.




490 BC
ASIA
MESOPOTAMIA (PERSIA)
 
The Iranians
The Persian Achaemenid Empire

Darius I
King of Persia
Attacks on the Greeks

Poking the Bear





480 BC
ASIA
MESOPOTAMIA (PERSIA)
 
The Iranians
The Persian Achaemenid Empire

Xerxes
King of Persia
Son of Darius I
Attacks on the Greek

Poking the Bear




333 BC
ASIA
MESOPOTAMIA (PERSIA)
 
The Greeks
Persian Achaemenid Empire Falls

Alexander the Great
Conquers Persian Empire
Beginning of Western Rule

x


332 BC
AFRICA
EGYPT
 
The Greeks
Egyptian Empire Falls

Alexander the Great
Conquers the
Egyptian Empire



517
ASIA
JERUSALEM
 
The Jews - Christianity

Christianity Emerges

Christianity originated in Judea as a sect of the Jewish religion. It is an Abrahamic monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus Christ.

In the New Testament of the Bible, Jesus only preached to Jews. Jesus’ apostles were all Jews, and all the great number of early converts were Jewish. These early followers followed Mosaic law, Temple traditions and dietary customs.

The first non-Jewish Christian, was a Roman centurion, who according to Acts 10, was baptized in Jerusalem by Peter, marking a turning point in the spread of the religion.

It quickly spread to Europe, Syria, Meosoptamia, Asia Minor, Egypt, Ethiopia, and India, and by the end of the 4th century had become the official state church of the Roman Empire.

Following the Age of Discovery, Christianity spread to the Americas, Australia, sub-Saharan Africa, and the rest of the world through missionary work and colonization.

610
ASIA
SAUDI ARABIA (MECCA)
 
The Arabs - Islam
The Prophet Muhammad
and the Birth of Islam

The Prophet Muhammad was born in Mecca and received his revelations in Mecca.

He is reported to have been illiterate, but under the guardianship and tutelage of his uncle, Abu Talib ibn Abdul-Muttalib, he became a successful merchant, making many frequent trading trips to Syria.

Although a successful merchant, Muhammad did not concern himself with the type of materialism that was rampant in his time, but preferred solidtude and enlightment instead.  

Each year, Muhammad would retreat to a cave on Mount Hira, outside of Mecca to seek the peace he desired.  On one of these retreats, the angel Gabriel appeared to him, commanding him to recite sacred verses, previously unknown to him.  These verses would become part of the Quran, the holy book of Islam.


Islam came into being on the Arabian Peninsula, occupied today by Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Oman, Bharain, and Yemen.