West Asian History
People also call West Asia the Near East or the Middle East: it is the part of Asia that is closest to the Mediterranean Sea. It covers all the land between modern Turkestan in the north, Afghanistan in the east, the Persian Gulf in the south, and the Mediterranean Sea in the west. West Asia was one of the first places where people farmed and lived in towns; it was also one of the first places that had kings and built cities. Historians and archaeologists disagree about whether the Egyptians or the Sumerians (the first people to build a civilization in West Asia) came first, but it was about the same time.
After the Sumerians, many other groups of people came to power in
West Asia. Some of them, like the Assyrians
or the Persians, stayed in power for hundreds
of years, others, like the Akkadians,
only for a short time. Sometimes these groups ruled all of West Asia,
like the Assyrians, the Greeks,
the Parthians, or the Arabs.
Other times West Asia was broken up into many small kingdoms: Israel,
Babylon, Troy. The
history of West Asia is pretty complicated, but mostly it is the story
of some people trying to stay independent while other people try to
get power over them.
To find out more about West Asian history, check out these books from Amazon.com or from your library:
Mesopotamia, by Pamela Service (1998). For kids, down to the Persian conquest of the area.
Find Out About Mesopotamia: What Life Was Like in Ancient Sumer, Babylon and Assyria, by Lorna Oakes (2004).
Ancient Mesopotamians, by Elena Gambino (2000). For kids, retellings of Mesopotamian stories and lots of context.
Ancient Egyptians and Their Neighbors: An Activity Guide, by Marian Broida (1999). Not just Egypt! Includes activities for kids about the Sumerians, the Babylonians, the Hittites, and the Nubians.
The Persian Empire, by Karen Zeinert (1996). For kids. There are some errors, but basically a good introduction.
Ancient Near Eastern History and Culture, by William H. Stiebing (2002). Expensive, and hard to read, but it's a good up to date account.