Ancient Mesopotamia

Overview

Ancient Mesopotamia was in Asia (the Middle East), located right in between the Euphrates River and the Tigris River, both of which flow into the Persian Gulf. It was located directly above the Red Sea. Ancient Mesopotamia took up the land that we now know today as Northern Syria, most of central Iraq, and some areas of Turkey. Mesopotamia's nickname was "The Fertile Crescent,"since it was located on a piece of land called the Fertile Crescent, in what is now known as Lower Iraq. The section of land was in between two rivers, making Mesopotamia literally mean " the land between two rivers." It took up about one hundred-fifty miles of land.

There were other civilizations like Egypt and Greece, but Mesopotamia was believed to have been the first civilization. Since it was thought of as the first, it is, known as "the cradle of civilization." Mesopotamian civilizations started in around 3500 BCE. This is when the first settlers began building their communities. Since it was the first civilization in the world, people living in Mesopotamia built the first permanent communities. They were able to achieve this by being advanced in their agricultural techniques, which allowed them to be able to plant, harvest, have food all year round, and stay in one place. The first pioneers to enter Mesopotamia built permanent homes of sun-dried bricks made of mud and straw. They started a new life in the Southern region. The people, who settled down and began to develop villages and a civilization, are known as the Sumerians. These people were the ones responsible for inventing the first cities and written language.

Ancient Mesopotamia was very powerful, it had a lot of different groups of people wanting to rule, and that led to many wars. For many other reasons, such as poisoned crop fields, and an eventual lack of resources, which caused to dying, the civilization collapsed. Most people moved out of the country, unfortunately others remained for a while, and some died. Mesopotamia was soon not thought about as a powerful or resource filled country any more. There are other countries today that take up the land that was known, and used to be, Mesopotamia. Since it is no longer a civilization, we think of it as "Ancient Mesopotamia."

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Mesopotamia is the land between the Euphrates and the Tigris Rivers
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Mesopotamia literally means "the land between two rivers"


Climate and Geography

Mesopotamia is made up of different regions, each with its own geography. The geography of each area and the natural resources found there affected the ways that people lived. For example, in some areas it rained more, so they needed damns. In some regions certain food was common, in others it wasn't, so people had to travel a bit to find certain goods. When explorers and travellers came across Mesopotamia in the Middle East, they immediately wanted to settle in it. Early settlers chose to build a civilization in the middle of the desert, now known as Southern Iraq. People wanted to live in it because even though it had its problems, like not very many natural resources, a lot of flooding, and blazing hot summers, it was still a very desirable place to be for a few reasons.

There were two strong rivers for farming, drinking, and bathing. Because of the lack of rain in this area, without the rivers farming here would have been nearly impossible. Most of the land was very fertile which made it very easy to farm on. It was also very nice, warm, and sunny. Although, sometimes it was much too hot. Northern Mesopotamia was made up of a fair amount of hills, mountains, and plains. The land was very fertile due to seasonal rains in the North, and the rivers and small streams flowing from the mountains. Southern Mesopotamia was made up of marshes, and wide, flat, barren plains. Also in the south, there was mostly desert, and the desert soil was fertile. Cities later developed along the rivers which flew through the regions. Overall, most of Mesopotamia (other than the hills and mountains) was very flat.

Temperatures in the South could rise to over 110 degrees Fahrenheit. There was little rainfall here. Rain occurred more often in the Winter and Spring, especially between April and June. Storms did blow in from the Persian Gulf, which made the normally very hot land, a little bit cooler for a while. Mesopotamia has a slight change in seasons in some areas, and a bigger change in others. For example, the transition between winter and spring is quite a bit larger in the North than it is in the South. In the North, there is cold, wet winters. In the south, there are hot, dry summers. Overall, Mesopotamia experienced moderate rainfall.


Adapting and Managing the Environment

Farming in Mesopotamia depended on a lot on The Tigris and Euphrates Rivers. These people also depended on the two rivers for fresh water or places to bathe and water their livestock. The Tigris River was rough and flew fast; on the other hand, the Euphrates could easily be used by ships to get across the lands. This was important for trading and travelling purposes.


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The Ancient Mesopotamians were the first farmers. It was fairly easy to farm because there were many reliable resources in the area.


Mesopotamia soon became a very powerful and a resource which filled area for these people. In the beginning, natural wildlife and vegetation kept them fed while they began to build their new world. They wove baskets from the weeds that grew on the riverbanks, since their land was in between two rivers, and made pottery from the wet clay or mud they found. Even though it did not rain much, the settlers soon learned that if you irrigated land correctly, crops grew quite quickly. They were very intelligent and built canals to bring water to the land from the rivers. This is how they got their drinking and bathing water. They also used it to help grow crops. Sumerians were able to use timber, metals and stones they found from the nearby mountains for building. They used what they had, and used the resources available to them as best they could. Being friendly and trading with neighbouring lands was also very important because there were resources that were not available to them, that were in countries close by.

The fertile land along the rivers was used for producing such crops as wheat, barley, sesame, and flax. They also planted dates, cucumbers, apples, onions, and a variety of spices. They raised sheep, goats, and cows. They slaughtered many of their animals, but also knew how to use the wool from sheep, and took milk from their cows. People soon learned how to pound wool and goat hair into felt, or weave it into cloth. Even though they were able to stay in one place and farm, hunting was still a very important food source. Sumerians hunted wild birds and kinds of deer and gazelle for food. Some other creatures living in Mesopotamia were fish, duck, goats, sheep and pigs. They were able to tame these animals, to eat.
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Ancient Mesopotamia was nicknamed the Fertile Crescent. It was in the Middle East


Modern Lessons

Since it rained quite a bit in some parts of Mesopotamia in the winter and spring, land was often flooded. Sumerian's dealt with this by building dams, irrigation ditches, and canals for the water to flow in and stop from ruining their crops, and flooding houses. Nowadays, people in areas with risk of flooding and lots of rainfall, use dams and irrigation pipes to stop the water from overflowing. For example, here in Vancouver it rains a lot. We need somewhere for all that rain water to go. We have a dam in North Vancouver called the Cleveland dam. This keeps our water under control. The Sumerian's used similar technology back then when there was excess water; it was just less advanced technology.

In Ancient Mesopotamia, the Sumerians lived in homes that they created from mud bricks. First of all, they didn't have much wood, because they lived in a desert with few trees. They did have some trees though such as cedar trees. These trees were very special because since the wood was tall and straight, it could be used for roof beams in temples and palaces. It was also very expensive, so the people had to make do with another kind of material to build their homes from. Also, since it was very hot and dry, they needed to build their houses from material that would keep them cool. Mud bricks were thick and solid, so they kept out the heat and blazing sun. Now, in modern days, in Iraq (which used to be known as Ancient Mesopotamia) and many other countries in the Middle East, concrete, which is very thick, is used for building to keep out the heat during the warm seasons. Over time, structures have developed and become more advanced, but in the Middle Eastern areas, their main purpose is still the same, to keep out the heat.

In the Fertile Crescent, Mesopotamians found that they had a large surplus of grain. But, there was no metal, wood, and stone as a natural resource here. Other countries around Ancient Mesopotamia had quite a lot of metal, wood, and stone, but hardly any grain. Mesopotamians traded with other countries, so that both countries could get the things that they needed. In present time, it is very often for neighbouring countries to trade resources with one another when one country has to much of something, and another has to little. A logical thing to do it trade, so that both nations get what they need.



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Babylon, a city in Ancient Mesopotamia


Bibliography Information
Ancient Nearest Website
Collapse of Mesopotamia
Eduplace Website
Hubpages website
Hypermedia Ancient Mesopotamia
Mesopotamia/UK/Geography Website
Mr Donns website
Mr Dowling website
Overview&Climate of Mesopotamia
The emergence of civilization in Mesopotamia
Wikipedia Mesopotamia

Bibliography Images
Ancient City of Babylon
Ancient Mesopotamians farming
Map of Ancient Mesopotamia
Mesopotamia, the land between two rivers
Timewatch Website