While most people are familiar with the modern Middle East, few understand the deep history of the region. This geographically diverse area rich with resources engendered civilization as we conceive it, being home to the earliest domesticated agriculture, oldest monumental art and architecture, first cities, first political and economic systems, and the first examples of writing in human history. In this course we will examine objects, architecture, and archaeological sites from across this region from roughly 8,000-400 BCE, considering the nature of civilization and the enduring influence of these earliest societies.