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Major Events:Armistice of Mudros...(Show more)Key People:JulianSeljuqHormuzd RassamSir Leonard WoolleySir Austen Henry Layard...(Show more)Related Topics:irrigationcuneiform“Eridu Genesis”Lahmu and also Lahamucivilization...(Show more)Related Places:IraqBabylonSumerAssyriaBabylonia...(Show more)
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Learn around the culture of Mesopotamia in the fertile Crescent between the Tigris and also Euphrates rivers

history of Mesopotamia, history of the region in southwestern Asia where the world earliest people developed. The name originates from a Greek word an interpretation “between rivers,” introduce to the land between the Tigris and also Euphrates rivers, but the region can be broadly defined to encompass the area that is currently eastern Syria, southeastern Turkey, and most that Iraq. The an ar was the center of a society whose influence prolonged throughout the center East and as much as the Indus valley, Egypt, and the Mediterranean.

This post covers the background of Mesopotamia indigenous the prehistoric period up come the Arab occupation in the 7th century ce. For the history of the region in the doing well periods, see Iraq, background of. For a conversation of the religions of old Mesopotamia, see Mesopotamian religion. See also art and architecture, Mesopotamian.


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Mesopotamia to the finish of the Old Babylonian period

The beginnings of Mesopotamian history

The background

In the small sense, Mesopotamia is the area between the Euphrates and Tigris rivers, phibìc or northwest of the bottleneck in ~ Baghdad, in modern-day Iraq; it is Al-Jazīrah (“The Island”) the the Arabs. Southern of this lies Babylonia, called after the city that Babylon. However, in the wider sense, the name Mesopotamia has come to be provided for the area bounded on the northeast by the Zagros Mountains and on the southwest by the sheet of the Arabian Plateau and also stretching indigenous the Persian Gulf in the southeast to the spurs of the Anti-Taurus hills in the northwest. Only from the latitude the Baghdad execute the Euphrates and Tigris truly come to be twin rivers, the rāfidān the the Arabs, which have actually constantly readjusted their courses over the millennia. The low-lying level of the Kārūn river in Persia has constantly been closely related come Mesopotamia, yet it is no considered part of Mesopotamia as it develops its very own river system.

Mesopotamia, south of Al-Ramādī (about 70 miles, or 110 kilometres, west of Baghdad) ~ above the Euphrates and the bending of the Tigris below Sāmarrāʾ (about 70 mile north-northwest that Baghdad), is flat alluvial land. Between Baghdad and also the mouth the the Shaṭṭ al-ʿArab (the confluence that the Tigris and also Euphrates, where it empties right into the Persian Gulf) over there is a difference in height of only around 100 feet (30 metres). Together a an outcome of the slow circulation of the water, there are heavy deposits that silt, and also the riverbeds space raised. Consequently, the rivers regularly overflow their financial institutions (and might even change their course) as soon as they room not protected by high dikes. In recent times they have actually been regulated above Baghdad by the use of escape networks with overflow reservoirs. The excessive south is a region of extensive marshes and also reed swamps, hawrs, which, probably since early times, have served together an area the refuge for oppressed and displaced peoples. The supply of water is no regular; as a an outcome of the high median temperatures and a very low yearly rainfall, the ground of the plain of latitude 35° N is hard and also dry and unsuitable because that plant farming for at least eight months in the year. Consequently, farming without risk of crop failure, which appears to have started in the greater rainfall zones and in the hilly borders of Mesopotamia in the 10th millennium bce, began in Mesopotamia itself, the genuine heart that the civilization, just after fabricated irrigation had actually been invented, bringing water to huge stretches of territory through a widely branching network the canals. Since the ground is incredibly fertile and, with irrigation and the necessary drainage, will create in abundance, southern Mesopotamia became a land of plenty that can support a substantial population. The social superiority of north Mesopotamia, i beg your pardon may have lasted until around 4000 bce, was ultimately overtaken by the south as soon as the civilization there had responded come the difficulty of their situation.


The existing climatic conditions are reasonably similar to those of 8,000 years ago. An English inspection of ruined settlements in the area 30 miles around ancient Hatra (180 mile northwest of Baghdad) has shown that the southern limits of the ar in which farming is feasible without synthetic irrigation has remained unchanged due to the fact that the an initial settlement the Al-Jazīrah.

The ease of access of raw products is a historical aspect of great importance, as is the dependency on those materials that had actually to it is in imported. In Mesopotamia, farming products and those from stock breeding, fisheries, day palm cultivation, and also reed industries—in short, grain, vegetables, meat, leather, wool, horn, fish, dates, and also reed and plant-fibre products—were accessible in plenty and also could easily be produced in overabundance of house requirements to be exported. There space bitumen springs in ~ Hīt (90 mile northwest of Baghdad) on the Euphrates (the Is the Herodotus). ~ above the other hand, wood, stone, and also metal were rare or even entirely absent. The date palm—virtually the nationwide tree that Iraq—yields a wood perfect only for rough beams and not for finer work. Rock is mostly doing not have in southern Mesopotamia, return limestone is quarried in the desert around 35 miles to the west and also “Mosul marble” is discovered not far from the Tigris in its middle reaches. Metal deserve to only be derived in the mountains, and the very same is true the precious and semiprecious stones. Consequently, southerly Mesopotamia in specific was destined to it is in a land of trade from the start. Only rarely can “empires” expanding over a more comprehensive area guarantee themselves imports by plundering or by subjecting adjoining regions.

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The raw product that epitomizes Mesopotamian world is clay: in the virtually exclusively mud-brick architecture and in the number and selection of clay figurines and also pottery artifacts, Mesopotamia bears the rubber stamp of clay together does no other civilization, and nowhere in the world yet in Mesopotamia and also the areas over i beg your pardon its influence was diffused to be clay supplied as the vehicle for writing. Together phrases as cuneiform civilization, cuneiform literature, and cuneiform legislation can use only where people had had actually the idea of using soft clay not just for bricks and jars and for the jug stoppers on i beg your pardon a seal could be impressed as a note of ownership but additionally as the vehicle for impressed indicators to which established definitions were assigned—an intellectual success that amounted to nothing less than the development of writing.