Western culture is characterized by a host of artistic, philosophic, literary and legal themes and traditions; the heritage of Greek, Roman, Germanic, Celtic, Slavic and other ethnic and linguistic groups.
Nevertheless, it is possible to follow the evolution and history of the West, and appreciate its similarities and differences, its borrowings from, and contributions to, other cultures of humanity.
What we think of as Western thought today originates primarily from Greco-Roman and Germanic influences, and includes the ideals of the Middle Ages, the Renaissance, and the Enlightenment, as well as Christian culture.
Western culture is neither homogeneous nor unchanging.
The term Middle East, in the mid-19th century, included the territory east of the Ottoman Empire, but West of China—Greater Persia and Greater India—is now used synonymously with "Near East" in most languages.
The earliest civilizations which influenced the development of western culture were those of Mesopotamia; the area of the Tigris–Euphrates river system, largely corresponding to modern-day Iraq, northeastern Syria, southeastern Turkey and southwestern Iran: the cradle of civilization.
Ancient Greek science, philosophy, democracy, architecture, literature, and art provided a foundation embraced and built upon by the Roman Empire as it swept up Europe, including the Hellenic World in its conquests in the 1st century BCE.