Ancient Mesopotamia Unit

Do you know that Mesopotamia is one of the earliest empires to embrace the light of civilization? The term Mesopotamia was coined in the Hellenistic period referring to the basins of the rivers Tigris and Euphrates and the area between two rivers. Ancient Mesopotamia is often termed as the “cradle of civilization”.

You will be amazed to know that Ancient Mesopotamia was home to some of the most prominent civilizations like the Sumerian city-states, and the Akkadian, Babylonian and Assyrian civilization.

The history of Ancient Mesopotamia spans the period from 4th millennium B.C to the rise of Achaemenids in 6th century B.C and the recent map of Mesopotamia covers the areas occupied by modern Iraq, eastern Syria and Southeastern Turkey.

The Ancient Form Of Government practiced in Mesopotamia

Mesopotamians believed their kings and queens to be descendents of city gods. Most kings took the epithet of “king of the universe” or “great king” or “shepherd” as he looks after the people. Nebuchadnezzar was the most powerful king of Babylonia.

The Assyrian empire was divided into small provinces named after their main cities like Damascus, Ninevah and Arpad. A Governor ruled each province and ensured just implementation of law, collection of taxes and provided workers when a temple was built in the province.

Babylon was at first a small empire but it expanded tremendously during the rule of Hammurabi and became one of the greatest cities and center for learning in Mesopotamia. King Hammurabi was a prominent lawmaker and his set of laws known as the Code Of Hammurabi (circa 1780 B.C) is the best-preserved example of ancient laws of Mesopotamia.

Ancient Mesopotamia Speaks And Writes 

The earliest language the ancient Mesopotamians wrote was Sumerian. Later Akkadian, a Semitic language became dominant, though Sumerian was used in literary, religious, administrative and scientific arenas. Then Aramaic, which was already in vogue, evolved as the official language.

The development of writing has more interest in store for you. At first writings were pictographic. During 4th century B.C the pictures became more and more abstract and simplified giving way to cuneiform, a syllabary writing system. In cuneiform writing system the Mesopotamians used a reed stylus to form wedge shaped letters on clay tablets.

Development Of Science And Technology In Ancient Mesopotamia

Mesopotamia reached the peak of progress in science and technology. Mesopotamian civilization was one of the early Bronze Age civilizations in the world. They used copper, bronze and gold and later iron came into the picture. The precious metals were used to decorate palaces and to build armors. But probably gold armors were meant for exhibitions only. Mesopotamia was proficient in metalworking, glassmaking, textile weaving, food control and irrigation.

The Field Of Advanced Mathematics

Ancient Mesopotamia was the pathfinder of the Sexagesimal (base 60) numeric system. This system is the mother of the concepts like 60 minute in one hour, 24 hours a day and 360 degree circle in modern mathematics. The Sumerian calendar measured a week with 7 days, which was used for making maps.

Ancient Mesopotamia Dives Into The Depth Of Astronomy

The astronomers of ancient Babylonia studied the stars and the sky with vigor and predicted eclipses and solstices. Mesopotamia believed that astronomy relates to the life of the people. In Ancient Mesopotamia the eclipses, those, which are counted, were considered as bad omens The Sumerian and Babylonian astronomers singled out constellations like the Taurus, Leo, Scorpius, Auriga, Gemini, Capricornus and Saggitarius which are still in use today. The constellations were used to calculate time and to determine planting and harvesting of crops.  Astrology originated from the ruins of the knowledge this ancient astronomy.

The Religion Of Ancient Mesopotamia

Mesopotamia is the cradle of the oldest religion in the world. The Mesopotamians believed that the world is flat and is surrounded by a holed space with the kingdom of heaven above. According to them water encircled them from all the sides and the universe was born out of water.

Mesopotamians were pantheist, they believed in many gods. There were regional variations like the Sumerian word for the universe is An- Ki which refers to God An and Goddess Ki. Their son Enlil, the air god was believed to be the most powerful god and the chief of the pantheon.

The temples were built with clay and mud to worship gods. These temples were called Ziggurats.

The Mesopotamians believed in bad souls and painted pictures and built statues to ward off the evils of the ghosts.

The Flow Of Life In Ancient Mesopotamia

Agriculture was very developed in Mesopotamia. It was self sufficient in food with the rivers Tigris and Euphrates draining the land rich for crop harvest. But areas remote from Tigris or Euphrates were dry and infertile and not fit for habitation. But Mesopotamia was quite developed in irrigation. Dams and aqueducts were built to control water supply.

Early settlers used wooden plows for tilling the soil. Barley, onions, grapes, turnips and apples were the main crops. Mesopotamians were the first maker of beer and wine. Weather in Mesopotamia was harsh making food production unpredictable so support foods like lambs and cows were kept. 

In Mesopotamia houses were built of mud and brick with wooden doors. Evidences suggest that the inhabitants built the houses themselves.

The Aura Of Art and Games In Ancient Mesopotamia

Song and music provided options of entertainment to the rich and the ordinary alike. Hunting, boxing, wrestling were some popular games. Polo with men sitting on shoulders of other men was also popular.

The rich history of ancient Mesopotamia etches the story of the glorious past of human achievements.