West Asian Government - Mesopotamia and Iran
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West Asian Government

Stele of Naram-Sin
Stele of Naram-Sin (ca. 2200 BC)

Since the time of the Akkadians, about 2300 BC, the government of West Asia has cycled back and forth between periods of unity under empires ruled by a "king of kings" and smaller kingdoms ruled by ordinary kings. Most of the time there have been larger empires - the Akkadians, the Assyrians, the Persians, the Parthians, the Sassanians, the Islamic Empire, and the Ottoman Empire. Around the edges, however, there have always been communities of nomads - the Arabs, especially - who were not part of these empires.

Within these empires, the king split the land up into smaller provinces, each ruled by a governor appointed by the king. The king took care of some things directly. The Persian king, for instance, built good roads all over his empire so that people would be able to travel more easily. The governors took care of other things, like collecting taxes.

Learn by doing: which government (federal, state, or city) takes care of which things in your country?
Roman government

Bibliography and further reading about West Asian history:

Mesopotamia, by Pamela Service (1998). 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). 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 about the Sumerians, the Babylonians, the Hittites, and the Nubians.

The Persian Empire, by Karen Zeinert (1996). 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.

The Babylonians
The Persians
More about West Asia
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Karen Carr is Associate Professor Emerita, Department of History, Portland State University. She holds a doctorate in Classical Art and Archaeology from the University of Michigan. Follow her on Instagram, Pinterest, or Twitter, or buy her book, Vandals to Visigoths.
Karen Carr is Associate Professor Emerita, Department of History, Portland State University. She holds a doctorate in Classical Art and Archaeology from the University of Michigan. Follow her on Instagram or Twitter, or buy her book, Vandals to Visigoths.
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