The two major world powers in the first century AD were the Roman Empire and the Parthian Empire. The Roman Empire extended through much of modern-day Europe, as far west as Spain, the southern half of Britain, east to Greece, Syria, and Israel, and south to parts of northern Africa.
Persia was the heart of the Parthian Empire. That empire included much of what is now the Middle East (Turkey, Iraq, Iran), parts of Central Asia (Afghanistan to India), and parts of southern Russia.
Persia’s history is intertwined with the Israelites’ history. Persian kings were instrumental in releasing the Hebrews from Babylonian captivity and letting them rebuild Jerusalem.
The Roman and Parthian Empires clashed over lands bordering the Red Sea and the eastern Mediterranean. Some of those conflicts converged on Israel and Jerusalem. That’s one of several backdrops for my books about the Wise Men.
A lesser-known, more mysterious people group was the Nabataeans. Their borders were uncertain; they didn’t form alliances, and they kept many secrets. Their former capital, Petra, is highly recognizable. The Nabataeans are an additional source of conflict and intrigue in my books.