Maps can tell a great story without words, especially by showing a temporal depiction of the change of cultures and boundaries. Throughout history though, various empires conquered many lands across most of Asia and left behind many cultural influences that have molded today's ethnic groups and languages in the region.
There are three main language families in this region depicted in the below map: Semitic (Yellow), Indo-Iranian (Orange), and Turkic (Green).
Semitic language roots trace back to the days of the Sumerians and Akkadians estimated around 2400 BC. These languages have evolved over time into the most commonly known languages of Arabic (commonly used in all Arab States), Hebrew (commonly used in Israel), Amharic (commonly used in Ethiopia), and Tigrinya (commonly used in Eritrea).
Indo-Iranian language roots trace back to 6th century BC. Indo-Iranian is most commonly known today as the Persian language family consisting of mainly Kurdish, Farsi, Pashto, Tajik, and Dari. Other Indo-Iranian languages are located in Pakistan and India.
Turkic language roots trace back to the early Middle Ages (around 8th century AD). Before the Turkic expansion occurred, most Turks were located in the Area known as Mongolia today. In the years following the early Middle Ages, the Turks expanded in all parts of Asia from Siberia to India to Turkey covering a vast land mass and influencing many cultures along the way. Today, Turkish, Azerbaijani, and the languages of the former Soviet republics in Central Asia make up what is part of the Turkic family.
The following maps are courtesy of the Gulf/2000 Project funded by Columbia University:
|Linguistic Composition of Southwest Asian States: Present Day|
The following group of maps reveals historic changes as a result of the various conquerors, empires, and cultures from 1450 to 2000 AD. Throughout the years, the only long standing empires have been the Ottoman/Turkey and Persia/Iran.
|Islamic States ca. AD 1450|
|Islamic States ca. AD 1510|
|Islamic States ca. AD 1550|
|Islamic States ca. AD 1625|
|Islamic States ca. AD 1700|
|Islamic States ca. AD 1750|
|Islamic States ca. AD 1800|
|Islamic States ca. AD 1840|
|Islamic States ca. AD 1850|
|Islamic States ca. AD 1900|
|Islamic States ca. AD 1925|
|Islamic States ca. AD 1950|
|Islamic States ca. AD 2000|