Archaeological excavations show existence of human habitation in Arabia during the earliest period of Stone Age. These earliest remains pertain to Chellean period of Paleolithic epoch. The people of Arabia mentioned in the Old Testament throw light on the relations between the Arabs and ancient Hebrews between 750 to 200 B.C. Similarly, Talmud also refers to the Arabs. Josephus (37—100 B.C.) gives some valuable historical and geographical details about the Arabs and Nabataeans. There are many more Greek and Latin writings of pre-Islamic era, enumerating the tribes living in the Peninsula and giving their geographical locations and historical details, which ARABIA IN ANCIENT HISTORY, notwithstanding the mistakes and inconsistencies in them, are inestimable sources of information about ancient Arabia. Alexandria was also one of those important commercial centers of antiquity which had taken a keen interest in collecting data about Arabia, its people and the commodities produced in that country for commercial purposes.
The classical writers first to mention the Arabians in the Greek literature were Aeschylus (525-465 B. C.) and Herodotus (484-425 B. C.). Several other writers of the classical period have left an account of Arabia and its inhabitants, of these, Claudius Ptolemaeus of Alexandria was an eminent geographer of the second century, whose Almagest ARABIA IN ANCIENT HISTORY occupied an important place in the curriculum of Arabic schools. Christian sources also contain considerable details about Arabia during the pre-Islamic and early Islamic era although these were primarily written to describe Christianity and its missionary activities in that country.
The numerous references made to the 'Ereb' in the Old Testament are synonymous with the nomadic tribes of Arabia since the word means desert in Semitic and the characteristics of the people described therein apply to the Bedouins. Similarly, the Arabs mentioned in the writings of the Greeks and Romans as well as in the New ARABIA IN ANCIENT HISTORY Testament were Bedouins who used to make plundering raids on the frontier towns of Roman and Byzantine empires, despoiled the caravans and imposed extortionate charges on the traders and wayfarers passing through their territories. Diodorus Siculus, a classical writer of Sicily in the second half of the first century B.C., affirms that the Arabians are "Self reliant and independence-loving, like to live in the open desert and highly prize and value their liberty." The Greek historian Herodotus (484-425 B. C.) also makes a similar remark about them. "They revolt against every power," he says, "which seeks to control ARABIA IN ANCIENT HISTORY their freedom or demean them." The passionate attachment of the Arabs to their personal freedom had been admired by almost all the Greek and Latin writers.
The acquaintance of the Arabs with the Indians and their commercial and cultural relations which India began in the days much before the advent of Islam and their conquest of India. Modern researches on the subject show that of all the Asiatic countries, India was closest to, Arabia and well-acquainted with it.