The birthplace of civilization
8000-6000 Before Common Era
Agricultural development thrives in the "Fertile Crescent."
Sumer, a loosely organized league of city-states, springs up in the southern part of Mesopotamia. Its capital, Ur, is thought to be the birthplace of Abraham, the patriarch of Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Around 3000, writing is developed independently in Mesopotamia and Egypt. Mesopotamian boatmen seal their barges with black pitch that bubbles from the ground; people decorate their temples with bitumen, a byproduct of distilled petroleum.
Abraham leads Israelites from Mesopotamia into Canaan, in modern-day Israel.
Mesopotamia is divided into rival states, Babylon in the south, Assyria to the north.
Babylon's King Hammurabi writes a detailed law code.
Assyrian records first mention Arabs, nomads who herd sheep and goats in the deserts of the Arabian Peninsula south of Mesopotamia.
Assyrian empire expands from the Persian Gulf to Egypt and Asia Minor, including Mesopotamia and today's Israel.
Under King Nebuchadnezzar, Babylonians take Syria from Egypt and conquer Judea. Babylonians destroy the First Temple in Jerusalem and take the Israelites into slavery.
Persia (modern-day Iran) conquers Babylon and sends the Jews back to reconstruct Jerusalem and build the Second Temple.
Alexander the Great conquers Persia and creates a commercial center in Babylon.
163 B.C.E-114 Common Era
Roman armies add Persian territories to their expanding empire.
Sassanians form a revitalized Persian empire, with Mesopotamia at its core. Pagans, Christians, Jews and Buddhists worship alongside Zoroastrians, whose ancient religion is the official faith.
Islam's founder, Mohammed, is born.
Mohammed begins recruiting followers to his monotheistic faith.
Mohammed dies in Medina, in what is now Saudi Arabia.
In the name of Islam, an Arab army conquers Syria, Egypt, Mesopotamia, Palestine and Persia and rules from Damascus.
Mesopotamians revolt against Arabic rule from Damascus. Jafar al-Mansur, a caliph from Mohammed's family, builds a new capital, Baghdad, which becomes a trading center for Islamic Empire.