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     The modern archaeological and historical context of the Near East and Iran      Wider West Asia (the Middle East and Transcaucasia)

The Near East is a geographical term that covers different countries for archeologists and historians, on the one hand, and for political scientists, economists, and journalists, on the other. The term originally applied to the Balkan states in Eastern Europe, but now generally describes the countries of Western Asia between the Mediterranean Sea and Iran, especially in historical contexts.[1]

The term, as used by Western archaeologists, geographers, and historians, refers to the region encompassing Anatolia (the Asian portion of modern Turkey), the Levant (Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Cyprus, Israel and the Palestinian territories), Mesopotamia (Iraq) and, occasionally, Transcaucasia (Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan). In modern political and journalistic contexts, this region is usually subsumed into the wider Middle East, while the terms Near East or West Asia are preferred in archaeological, geographic and historical contexts. The term has been referred to as eurocentric.[2]



Inhabitants of the Near East, late nineteenth century

The term Near East came into use in the 1890s, when European powers were faced with two critical situations in the "east".[3] The Sino-Japanese War in 1894–1895 occurred in the Far East. British archaeologist D.G. Hogarth published The Nearer East in 1902, which helped to define the term and its extent, including the Balkan Pennisula[4] (Albania, Montenegro, southern Serbia, Bulgaria and Greece), Egypt, all the Ottoman lands, the entire Arabian Peninsula, and western parts of Iran.[3]

There is general agreement concerning the list of Near East countries in the current geo-political context, as can be seen from the scope of activity of the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs in the U.S. Department of State[5] and the Washington Institute for Near East Policy[6]. All North African countries are included, whilst the South Caucasus countries (Armenia, Georgia and Azerbaijan) are not considered part of the Near East in the modern context. USAID puts the South Caucasus countries in its Europe and Eurasia regional bureau.[7] The Eastern Mediterranean island of Cyprus is also included in several definitions of the Near East, based on its geographical location as well as its cultural and historical background.[8][9][10][11][12] USAID places Cyprus in their reports on the Near East.[13] Additionally, the Near East University is situated in the country's capital, Nicosia.

Territories and regions

The Near East is an ambiguous term which may apply to different territories and regions depending on specific interpretations.

Country Bureau of Near East
Washington Institute
for Near East Policy[6]
United States Agency for
International Development[13]
The Library of Congress:
Near East Section[8]
Cyprus + +
Egypt + + + +
Iran + + +
Iraq + + +
Israel + + +
Jordan + + + +
Lebanon + + + +
North Africa + + + +
Oman + + +
Palestinian Authority + + +
Persian Gulf States + + +
Saudi Arabia + + +
Turkey + +
Yemen + + + +

Legend: + included; – excluded

See also


  1. ^ Near East, Oxford Dictionary of English, 2nd ed., Oxford University Press, 2003.
  2. ^ Philip Shukry Khoury, Joseph Kostiner, Tribes and state formation in the Middle East, University of California Press, 1990, p.127.
  3. ^ a b Davidson, Roderic H. (1960). "Where is the Middle East?". Foreign Affairs 38: p. 665–675.  
  4. ^ Eric Hobsbawn, The Age of Empire: 1875-1914, Pantheon Books, 1987, ISBN 0394563190, p.17,
  5. ^ a b Countries covered by the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs, U.S. Department of State
  6. ^ a b Countries covered by the Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  7. ^ South Caucasus countries in USAID classification
  8. ^ a b Countries of the Near East Section, The Library of Congress
  9. ^ "Egypt and the Near East", Centre for the Study of Ancient Documents
  10. ^ Simmons, Alan H., The Neolithic Revolution in the Near East: Transforming the Human Landscape, (2007)
  11. ^ Washington Post: Near East
  12. ^ Hall, H. R., The Ancient History of the Near East: From the Earliest Times to the Battle of Salamis, Methuen, (1913)
  13. ^ a b United States. Agency for International Development [AID]. Office of Development Information and Utilization, "Near East, Afghanistan: selected statistical data by sex" which states that: "...individual reports have been prepared for the following countries of the Near East: Cyprus, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Syria, Tunisia, and the Yemen Arab Republic."


Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary

Wikipedia has an article on:




The Near East

Proper noun

Near East


Near East

  1. The region located south of Eastern Europe, comprised of Anatolia, Transcaucasia, the Levant, and Mesopotamia.

Related terms



Simple English

The Near East is a term used for Middle East by archaeologists, geographers and historians.


The term Near East came into use in the 1890s, when European powers had to do with two critical situations in the "east".[1] The Sino-Japanese War in 1894–1895 in the Far East, and the Armenian Genocide in the Near East.[1]

British archaeologist D.G. Hogarth published The Nearer East in 1902, which helped to define the term and its extent, including Albania, Montenegro, southern Serbia and Bulgaria, Greece, Egypt, all the Ottoman lands, the entire Arabian peninsula, and western parts of Iran.[1]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Davidson, Roderic H. (1960). [Expression error: Unexpected < operator "Where is the Middle East?"]. Foreign Affairs 38: p. 665–675. 

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