From the beginnings to the most recent times the centre of gravity of world history has usually swung about between the Atlantic and Iran. Yet (also until the most recent times) what went on there had little direct impact elsewhere. Much of the life of other parts of the world long remained virtually impervious to the influence of its civilizations and two areas were especially resistant: India and China. By 1000 BC civilizations had appeared in these countries which were, in spite of peripheral contacts, quite independent of the Near East. They were the foundations of splendid and enduring cultural traditions which were to outlive those of Mesopotamia and Egypt, and they would each enjoy a huge sphere of influence.