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Iran (persia)

The Bronze Age on the plateau of central Iran began about 3,000 B.C. A basic agricultural economy was soon augmented by export of lapis lazuli from the northeast and steatite (soapstone) from the southeast. The metal industry followed that of Elam and Babylonia. The Elamite civilization with its capital at Susa continued to flourish in a limited geographical area and their antagonisms and military vigor were manifested in their raids of Sumer. The Mitanni and the Hurrians lived in parts of northern Iran before their migrations into northern Syria. Writings appeared early in Persia, notably in the region of Elam, where the cultural relations were closer to Mesopotamia than to the remainder of Persia. Elamites also had indirect trade with Egypt. (Ref. 18 , 45 )

The linguist, Pei (Ref. 168 ), believes that the Indo-European peoples and their basic language originated by about 2,500 B.C. either on the Iranian plateau or about the Baltic Sea, while Wells (Ref. 229 ) would put the date several thousand years earlier (See also Eastern Europe ). McEvedy (Ref. 136 ) indicates a southern Russia and lower central Asian origin around the Aral Sea, with these early Indo-Europeans, which he labels "Iranians", as beginning migrations from central Asia down into Iran by 2,250 B.C. and even pushing into Syria by 1,600 B.C. Their gray Gurgan pottery is found at the excavation site of Tepe Hissar just south and east of the Caspian Sea. These same Iranians spread across central Asia, becoming the base population of the steppe, while another segment moved south, eventually invading India. As the Iranians stormed into the Middle East at the end of the time period under review, they were accompanied by clans of the Caucasian Kassites and Hurrians, with war chariots. (Please also see Europe: 5000 to 3000 B.C. ). (Ref. 168 , 229 , 136 , 88 )

Asia minor (ancient anatolia)

Prehistoric copper cultures have been validated by excavations of Troy (3,000-2,400) and Alishar Huyuk (3,000-2,800). As these great copper supplies were developed, the axis of history began to shift to this Mediterranean region and away from Mesopotamia. About 3,000 B.C. there were a series of local early Bronze Age cultures, including the Yortan Culture of northwest Anatolia, which had close relationships to the Cycladic Culture of the Aegean, and the first Troy (Kisarlik). The Trojan artisans learned to toughen copper by alloying it with small amounts of tin by about 3,000 but the source of this tin is un- known. Regional divisions in the peninsula became quite marked with each controlled by a native dynasty and metropolitan centers soon became quite wealthy. (Ref. 88 ) By 2,000 B.C. the Assyrians had trading posts in the area, such as at Kanesh (modern Kultepe) where the form of certain names in tablets indicates the arrival of an Indo-European speaking people, the Hittites. By 1,750 B.C. the latter had become a dominant military caste, controlling important cities. They may actually have appeared first some five hundred years earlier, settling in the bend of the Halys River, but their origin is much disputed.

Traditionally they have been described as coming down from the region of the Caspian Sea, but more recent studies would suggest that they had origin from the Aegean Sea peoples and came at this period from the shores of Greece and the Aegean Islands, along with their kinsmen, the Luvians (also Luwians). The Hittite migration was only the central component in a trio of displacements. From north of the Black Sea the Usatove were moving into the Balkan area and at the base of the Anatolian peninsula the Caucasian Khirbet Kerak were moving down into Syria and even into Palestine. These people have also been called Hattites and represent the original population of Anatolia.

The Hittite language had declensional and conjugational forms similar to both Latin and Greek and some of their simple words were visibly akin to modern English, such as:

  • Vadar - water, and
  • Essa - eat.

The Hittites had sharp, aquiline noses and Wells (Ref. 229 ) felt that they had fused sufficiently with the early Hebrews to give the latter this nose as a trademark. The basic population of Turkey, today, also has this physical feature. The Hittites had iron and used it.

Their society was probably related in some way to the Sumerian and many of their customs were similar. Politically they had a warrior aristocracy, but they also had art, religionand writing, all exhibiting close affinities with Mesopotamian models. The first known rulers of the old Hittite Kingdom were Labarnas and his son Hattusilis II. In 1,595 B.C.,under Muresilis I, they conquered Babylon. The Luvians, related to the Hittites, had penetrated Asia Minor during the latter part of the 3rd millennium B.C. and were soon active in the west with a principal city of Beycesultan on the River Meander. That city was destroyed in 1,750 B.C., perhaps by the Hittite King Labarnas I.

East of the Hittites was the area of ancient Armenia, known in that time as "Urartu" and in some places in the Bible as "Ararat". The people we call "Armenians" today, however, probably did not arrive until at least the 8th century B.C. Even in the early time of the third millennium the overland trade routes of traders to the steppes of Asia crisscrossedthis land, and the indigenous population was skilled in the secrets of ancient metallurgy. In at least the later part of the period under survey, the basic population of Urartu was comprised of the non-Semitic, probably Caucasian, Hurrian and Vannic peoples. (Ref. 136 , 45 , 88 )

Jemmeh, mentioned previously in a note on page 1183, was reoccupied with a Midole Bronze settlement about 1,800 B.C. (Ref. 295 )

It should be noted that Sargon I and his 54,000 men plundered all of Mesopotamia around Kish, devastating the countryside to the east, thereby preventing another army from going through until the population and crops had been restored. (Ref. 279 ) It was in the Mesopotamia area that the two-wheeled chariot was invented about 1,800 B.C. as a result of the development of spoked wheels with a friction-reducing hub and axle design. The compound bow was also developed so that mobility and fire power in war were greatly increased. The steppe people were best able to take advantage of this and between 1800 and 1500 B.C. waves of barbarian charioteers overran the Middle East. At the same time rich merchants were using donkey caravans to move tin eastward and textiles westward, from the Persian Gulf to Anatolia, with profits up to 100% in a year. (Ref. 279 )

Forward to The Near East: 1500 to 1000 B.C.

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Source:  OpenStax, A comprehensive outline of world history (organized by region). OpenStax CNX. Nov 23, 2009 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col10597/1.2
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