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1. Introduction 2. Hunter-gatherers at the end of the Ice Age 3. A changing perspective: neolithic beginnings 4. The exploration of new horizons 5. Continuity and change in the late sixth and fifth millenium BC 6. The fourth millenium BC and the Uruk intrusion 7. Regionalization and local trajectories 8. The 'second urban revolution' and its aftermath 9. The regeneration of complex societies 10. Empires and internationalism 11. Iron age Syria 12. Conclusions.