The oud originated from the Persian instrument called a barbat or barbud, a lute indicated by Marcel-Dubois to be of likely Central Asian origin, with the earliest depictions found dating back to the 1st century B.C.E.
Likely origin isn't proven origin, however, and there is a history of short lutes in the Near East, Mesopotamia, dating as far back as 5000 years ago in the Fertile Crescent. Archeologists have found evidence of oud-like instruments in the Mesopotamian city of Ur dating back to more than 4000 years ago. The Mesopotamian lute arrived in Egypt and was already widespread there around 1700 BC. Archeology suggests that the Egyptians developed an early short-neck lute. The Near Eastern lute would go through many developments in the Hellenistic period.