Since antiquity Armenians have been an important component of the Near Eastern world. Alongside other ethno-linguistic groups such as Jews, Persians, Arabs, Turks, Greeks, and Kurds (among others), they have played an important role in shaping the social and political history of the region. Although the regions where Armenians resided in the Middle Ages covered a vast territory, ranging from the shores of the Caspian to the Nile Delta, most Armenians were concentrated in the regions known as eastern Anatolia (Gr. Aνατολή) and the Levant (Ar. al-Shām). The period between the eleventh and thirteenth centuries—a time frame covering the era of the Crusades and the Mongol invasions—should be understood as a distinctive phase in Armenian, and more broadly in Near Eastern, history as it witnessed the most apparent manifestation of an Armenian policy of realpolitik, which was a mechanism for the survival of this minority community in an increasingly-turbulent world.