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Mythology and Folklore

Ancient Middle Eastern Religions

southern Mesopotamia, Euphrates river, natural barriers, Asia Minor, Persia

Deeper web pages:

>  Common Elements

>  Mesopotamia

>  Asia Minor

>  Syria-Palestine

>  Conclusion

Ancient Middle Eastern Religions, religions of ancient Mesopotamia (now Iraq), Asia Minor (now Turkey), and Syria-Palestine (now Syria, Israel, Lebanon, and Jordan). The ancient Middle East also included Persia (now Iran) and Egypt. However, these countries were separated from other parts of the Middle East by natural barriers and had cultures and religions that were fundamentally different from those of the rest of the ancient Middle East.

Ancient Middle Eastern religions were the product of a long historical development among many different peoples, and as a consequence the relationships among these religions are often complex. For example, the cultures of southern Asia Minor and northern Syria and Mesopotamia in many cases shared a common way of life and religious tradition as a result of the Euphrates river, which rises in Asia Minor, flows through northern Syria and to Mesopotamia. An important commercial route, the Euphrates also served as a channel for ideas. The culture and religion of Sumer, in southern Mesopotamia, were different from those of northern Mesopotamia, but were eventually adopted with modifications in the north. Peoples from northern Mesopotamia in turn emigrated to Sumer after the third millennium bc, causing transformations in the population and culture of the south.


Foster, Benjamin R., A.B., M.A., M.Phil., Ph.D.

Professor of Assyriology, Yale University. Author of "Umma in the Sargonic Period" and "Before the Muses: An Anthology of Akkadian Literature".

Article key phrases:

southern Mesopotamia, Euphrates river, natural barriers, Asia Minor, Persia, northern Syria, consequence, transformations, Iran, Turkey, Israel, Jordan, Egypt, Iraq, Lebanon, population, rest, turn, result, countries, example, relationships, ideas, cultures, cases, channel, parts, modifications, product

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