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Monotheism and polytheism – West Asian religion

By | 2017-09-15T19:01:39+00:00 September 15th, 2017|Religion, West Asia|

The Mesopotamian goddess Ishtar or Inanna The earliest people in West Asia were all polytheistic: they all worshipped many gods. From 3000 BC to 539 BC, the Sumerians, the Akkadians, the Assyrians and the Babylonians all worshipped pretty much the same set of gods, despite their cultural differences. The most important of these gods was Ea. Ishtar was the most important goddess. Like the [...]

Ba’al – the Levant – West Asian gods

By | 2018-01-18T10:22:34+00:00 September 15th, 2017|Religion, West Asia|

Ba'al from Ugarit (Louvre Museum, Paris) All along the eastern coast of the Mediterranean Sea, in what's now Lebanon, Syria, and Israel, and down into the Arabian Peninsula, there was (and still is) a feeling that it's wrong to say the name of your god aloud. Instead, people called their god "Lord". Baal is the Semitic word [...]

Who is Astarte? West Asian religion

By | 2017-09-15T16:40:05+00:00 September 15th, 2017|Religion, West Asia|

Astarte in the Late Bronze Age As early as about 3000 BC, Astarte was a Semitic goddess of love and fertility. People worshipped her in Mesopotamia and in the Levant. Like the Roman goddess Venus or the Greek goddess Aphrodite, Astarte started out as the goddess of the evening star. (And soon West Asian astronomers realized that the evening star [...]

West Asian people – families, schools, slavery

By | 2017-09-15T14:13:10+00:00 September 15th, 2017|People, West Asia|

Ur-Nanshe, the king's chief musician in Mari, 2400s BC What we notice most about the way people lived in West Asia is the widespread oppression of women. As compared to their neighbors in Sudan, Egypt, Central Asia, the Roman Empire, or even India, West Asian women were much less likely to become rulers. [...]

Who were the Phoenicians? West Asian history

By | 2017-09-14T17:48:49+00:00 September 14th, 2017|History, West Asia|

Phoenician glass - a face pendant of an African man. 400-200 BC Sometime in the Late Bronze Age, around 1300 BC, a group of Semitic people living on the Mediterranean coast in modern Lebanon became more important than they had been before. These people, who had been called Canaanites, were now called the Phoenicians (foy-KNEE-shans). They became [...]

Who were the Philistines? West Asian history

By | 2017-09-14T17:35:22+00:00 September 14th, 2017|History, West Asia|

Philistines on the Egyptian temple of Medinet Habu At the end of the Late Bronze Age, around 1200 BC, there were bad times all over the Mediterranean and West Asia. The Egyptian New Kingdom collapsed, and so did the Hittite Empire. We don't exactly know why. It may have been a change in the climate, which caused a drought and [...]

The Mediterranean and West Asia

By | 2017-09-14T15:21:23+00:00 September 14th, 2017|West Asia|

Map of West Asia One common theme in the history of West Asia has been the conflict between land-oriented people and sea-oriented people. Often there is a group of people living in West Asia who are mostly land-oriented. These people don't sail boats much, or swim. They think of their kingdom as covering a certain piece of [...]

The Jews and the Levant – West Asian history

By | 2017-09-14T15:16:46+00:00 September 14th, 2017|History, West Asia|

Tel Kabri, a Canaanite palace ca. 1600 BC By the end of the Stone Age, the people who would eventually become known as the Hebrews, and then the Jews, were mostly settled down in villages, farming, though some of them may have been nomadic shepherds like Abraham and Isaac in the Bible. During the Bronze Age, the people living in Israel, [...]

West Asian history – The Levant, Mesopotamia, and Iran

By | 2017-09-14T13:31:44+00:00 September 14th, 2017|History, West Asia|

Map of West Asia 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. West Asia covers all the land between Russia in the north, Afghanistan in the east, the Persian Gulf in the south, and the Mediterranean Sea in the west. The Levant is the [...]