Among the most prominent civilizations was Dilmun, which arose around the 4th millennium BC and lasted to 538 BC, and Thamud, which arose around the 1st millennium BC and lasted to about 300 CE.
Additionally, from the beginning of the first millennium BC, Southern Arabia was the home to a number of kingdoms, such as the Sabaean kingdom, and the coastal areas of Eastern Arabia were controlled by the Parthian and Sassanians from 300 BC.
The first written attestation of the ethnonym Arab occurs in an Assyrian inscription of 853 BCE, where Shalmaneser III lists a King Gindibu of mâtu arbâi (Arab land) as among the people he defeated at the Battle of Karkar.
Some of the names given in these texts are Aramaic, while others are the first attestations of Ancient North Arabian dialects.
Inscriptions dating to the 6th century BCE in Yemen include the term "Arab".
The most popular Arab account holds that the word "Arab" came from an eponymous father called Ya'rub who was supposedly the first to speak Arabic.
Some tribes had adopted Christianity or Judaism, and a few individuals, the hanifs, apparently observed monotheism.
Arab Muslims primarily belong to the Sunni, Shiite, Ibadi, Alawite, Druze and Ismaili denominations.
Other ancient Greek historians like Agatharchides, Diodorus Siculus and Strabo mention Arabs living in Mesopotamia (along the Euphrates), in Egypt (the Sinai and the Red Sea), southern Jordan (the Nabataeans), the Syrian steppe and in eastern Arabia (the people of Gerrha).
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Arab tribes, most notably the Ghassanids and Lakhmids, begin to appear in the southern Syrian Desert from the mid 3rd century CE onward, during the mid to later stages of the Roman and Sasanian empires.
Some of the settled communities in the Arabian Peninsula developed into distinctive civilizations.
Sources for these civilizations are not extensive, and are limited to archaeological evidence, accounts written outside of Arabia, and Arab oral traditions later recorded by Islamic scholars.