The Near East is traditionally regarded by archaeologists and ancient historians as the region of southwest Asia, specifically the area encircled by the Mediterranean Sea, the Black Sea, the Caspian Sea, the Red Sea and the Persian/Arabian Gulf. In modern times this region includes the countries of Israel/Palestine, Lebanon, Syria, Turkey, Jordan, Iraq and western Iran. Some scholars also include Cyprus and Transcaucasia (Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan) in their definition of the Near East, though these should probably be considered "eastern Mediterranean" and "the Caucasus" respectively. Egypt, though certainly a player in terms of Near Eastern ancient history, is often excluded from traditional definitions of Near East. For modern political scientists and journalists, the term "Middle East" is used to refer to the same geographic area.
The Near East is generally regarded as the "cradle of civilization" as many milestones in human history, such as the earliest agriculture, writing, and cities, derived from this region.
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