While studying the Middle East as the ‘Cradle of Civilization’ one can see that the three basis of ancient civilization were Agriculture, Civilization, and War. Although life existed in the African continent prior to a migration of human settlers into the area we now call the Middle East about 50,000 years ago. The area within the Middle East, that is historically known as the ‘Fertile Crescent’ provided humans with the ability to stop their wandering (hunters – gathers) in search of food, due primarily to an abundant water supply, rich soil in which to plant grains, and the ability to herd cattle and sheep.
The ability to provide an agricultural base let to the settling of towns, where trade could take place. These towns grew into cities, and then into empires. Trade disputes required laws and the family patriarchs, became rulers. Around the Tigris and Euphrates and the Nile Valley are were the first ancient cities cropped up. Jericho, near the Jordan river sprung up as well and provided man with fortifications against other tribes, from taking their land for their agriculture purposes.
The Middle East is also the birthplace to many religions including Judaism, Christianity, Islam, and Zoroastrianism.
In today’s context, the term ‘Middle East’ carries with it much baggage. The term, to Western peoples bring visions of vast deserts, camels, flowing robes, oasis, and a savagery depicted in movies, not as archetypes, but as stereotypes of a land viewed by the eyes of Western culture. More recently, the area is depicted as brutal, intolerant, oil rich, yet stingy, decadent, and dangerous.
Another name that I would suggest as a label for that area is the Hub of Ancient Humanity. This name does not reference any one ethnic group of peoples in particular, does not reference any particular religious affiliation what so ever, yet the area a place of respect due to its status of seniority among human civilization. While, archeological evidence points to mankind’s beginnings in the African continent, The area now called the Middle East has a more complicated history and such a name invokes this history without the baggage of all that Westerners despise.