When we speak of Middle Eastern mythologies, to which cultures do we refer?
What Do We Mean By the Middle East?
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We refer to the mythologies of the ancient Sumerians and the Semitic peoples who followed them in Mesopotamia (the Akkadians, the Babylonians, and the Assyrians); the Anatolian peoples such as the Hittites and the Phrygians; the Western Semitic peoples living in the lands called at various times Canaan, Palestine, Phoenicia, Aram, Israel, Judah, and Samaria and in the Arab countries. We can include the sacred narratives of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam as outgrowths of Western Semitic traditions. In Middle Eastern mythology we also include the Indo-Iranian culture that evolved in Iran into Zoroastrianism. It would be natural to include ancient Egyptian mythology as a Middle Eastern phenomenon, but it is at once so radically different from the other Middle Eastern mythologies as to demand separate treatment.