The Ancient Near East

When humans gave up a hunting and gathering way of life for a more sedentary life of agriculture and raising livestock, it marked the beginning of the Neolithic Revolution. The first place where this significant change occurred was in an area called the Ancient Near East, also known as Mesopotamia.

It’s the region where the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers meet. Land there is extremely fertile and thus, very conducive to agriculture. For this reason, the region has also been called the Fertile Crescent. Mesopotamia coincides with modern-day Iran and Iraq.

This region has long been of interest to historians since it was the birthplace of three very important religions— Christianity, Islam, and Judaism. However, it wasn’t until the 19th century when the first excavations were conducted at this site that it became of interest to art historians.

Some of the most fascinating and lavish works of art of the ancient world have been found in Mesopotamia, and as interest heightened with each new find, European and North American art museums have been on a quest to collect these precious works of art.

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