Mesopotamia and the Near East,3500 - 1600BC
The first uniting of an empire in the Mesopotamia region came under Sargon when he brought all of the old Sumerian city-states under his central control. He and his successor then started conquering territory from southwest Iran to Syria. One of his motivators was a desire to try and extend trade (routes).
"By the seventeenth centuryBC a new power centre was developing further north,in Anatolia,where the Hittites set up a kingdom. After 1650BC they began to spread southwards and in 1595BC they sacked Babylon. In the dislocation which ensued, the first Babylonian dynasty collapsed.
It was at this point in time when you started having repeated incursions of Semites,Hurrians and the Indo-European Hittites. Sargon's empire collapsed because of internal pressures and invasion of hillmen from the Zargos mountains of Iran. Out of this the Sumerian city-state system re-emerged with Ur (in Iraq) predominating. Although this was a stable empire,it too collapsed (c.2000BC) under the pressure of a new wave of invasions by Semitic tribes - the Amorites from the Syrian desert who gained control over the whole region from Syria to southern Mesopotamia,where they set up a number of small kingdoms,among which first Assyria (rose and then fell) and then Babylon gained prominence.Babylon rose to prominence under Hammurabi (1792-50BC).
The Early Mediterranean World:
The earliest inhabitants of Greece and the Aegean islands were probably related to the Cretans. Shortly before 2000BC,the northern islands of Greece and parts of the mainland were invaded by peoples from Anatolia. But they never reached the island of Crete,so it was able to develop unencumbered and expanded it's colonies throughout the Aegean islands. This period of expansion reached it's apex at about 1500BC.
About 1450BC,invaders from the mainland of Greece conquered the island of Crete,burning towns and palaces. Eventually around 1300BC - the whole of the Aegean region became an empire of the Mycenaean.
Shortly before 1200BC,Mycenae was over run by invaders from perhaps Greece.
Armenians and Phrygians from the Balkans overthrew the Hittite empire in Anatolia. The groups that were displaced from these actions moved outward in search of new homes.
Those from the Hittite Empire in turn invaded Syria while the Hittite refugees who became known as the Sea Peoples from the coastal regions of Anatolia headed to Cyprus and Egypt,allying with the Libyans to attack Egypt who defeated them in 1232BC. Fifty years later the Egyptians defeated another coalition of these Sea Peoples.
Some of these Sea Peoples,including the Philistines then settled in Palestine.
Writing and many of the arts disappeared from the Aegean during this period of dislocation. But this was an age of technical advance,with iron replacing bronze for tools and weapons. The new Greek world was divided between hundreds of small independent communities or city-states linked by similar religions and dialects. Writing was eventually reintroduced using the Phoenician alphabet. In the eighth century BC a period of colonial expansion began. This epoch-making movement,caused by land-hunger,political oppression and the attraction of trade,changed the whole face of the Mediterranean and spread Greek civilization as far as the Black Sea in the east.
Egypt and the Near East,c.1600 - 330BC
Because of their fabulous wealth the lands of the Fertile Crescent were always subject to assault from barbarian charioteers from adjoining steppes and mountains,jealous of their civilisation and greedy for their riches. Egypt alone was sheltered by the desert.
Even Egypt suffered defeat and rule by a foreign Asiatic people known as the Hyksos. By the time the Egyptians were able to retake rule,Egypt's greatest period marked by pyramid building was over. But in reaction to the Hyksos era,Egyptians started on a period of expansion almost to the Euphrates River, meant to stop anymore invasions.
It was during the period from 1600BC to 500BC that one empire after another fell to barbarian tribes.The Hittite Empire fell about 1250BC from massive migrations from the Aegean who conquered rather than settled peacefully. Each group that was pushed out of it's native territory would then pressure another group in the next territory.
This power vacuum enabled the Israelites under David (c.1006BC - 966BC) to create a kingdom briefly controlling Palestine and Syria. But after Solomon (966-926BC) the kingdom,inherently unstable because of it's disparate tribal origins,quickly disintegrated. But change and fluidity,chaotic though their consequences were,had the effect of breaking down old geographical and cultural barriers and beginning the process of fusing the whole region into a single cosmopolitan society,over which,after 539BC Persia established hegemony.
(main source for information: "Concise Atlas of World History")