This course is designed to introduce students to the Ancient Near East, known as the cradle of civilization. It will give students a better understanding of the place where the first writing system was produced, where the first centralized governments were created, and where law codes and empires have started. The Ancient Near East refers to early civilizations in a region roughly corresponding to the modern Middle East: Mesopotamia (modern Iraq and Syria), Anatolia (modern Turkey), the Levant (modern Syria, Lebanon, Israel, Palestine, and Jordan), as well as Persia (modern Iran), and Ancient Egypt. This course offers an introduction to the history and cultures of the major civilizations of the ancient world from c. 3300-300 B.C., focusing on Egypt and Mesopotamia. Topics include a historical overview of the Ancient Near East, rise and fall of its empires, gods and myths, and the first languages spoken in these regions. Besides, topics ranging from art, architecture, and literature will also be covered.