Bildarchiv Preussischer Kulturbesitz, Berlin/Vorderasiatisches Museum

This was a time when a handful of powerful civilizations controlled the region, formed interdynastic marriages and called each other “brother” in their letters—such as this 14th-century B.C.E. cuneiform tablet (compare with photo of glazed-brick panel), found at Tell el-Amarna, Egypt. Diplomatic relations were also sealed by gifts embellished with symbols of kingly power that could easily be “read” by any royal recipient.