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Ancient Mesopotamia Facts
Ancient Mesopotamia Facts
Ancient Mesopotamia was located between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. Mesopotamia means "the land between the rivers" in Greek. It is often called the "cradle of civilization" because Mesopotamia was the location of the world's first civilization. The region today is called Iraq.
The earliest inhabitants of ancient Mesopotamia were called Sumerians. They lived in Mesopotamia around 3500 B.C. The Sumerians were a very advanced culture and provided many technological advancements.
Sumerian Statue from Ancient Mesopotamia
Ancient Mesopotamia - Contributions to Technology
One of the most important contributions to technology achieved by the Sumerians was the ability to control the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. The Sumerians learned to build levees. They were no longer dependent on the yearly floods and had a stable year-round food supply. This resulted in the first civilization because people didn't have to be nomadic.From this resulted the first basic forms of government called city-states. Each city-state consisted of a temple and public buildings at its center. There were social classes such as merchants, farmers, politicians, and priests. Each city-state governed itself. There were often wars between neighboring city-states.With the development of a city-state and government came the first major architectural structure called a ziggurat. A ziggurat was a temple standing on a base, similar to the early Egyptian pyramids. Ziggurats were constructed of bricks made from dried mud. Priests were the only ones allowed inside the holy ziggurats. This made the priests an upper member in social standing.One of the other most important technological contributions made by the Sumerians was the first system of writing. Writing was developed because the city-states needed a way to keep records. The Sumerians developed a writing system called cuneiform writing. Cuneiform means wedge shaped. It was called this because cuneiform writing was made up of many pie shapes that represented individual words. Clay tablets were used and then left to dry in the sun to become permanent records.Sumerians are also credited with inventing the wheel. This was one of the most important developments in technology of all time. Other important inventions of the Sumerians that contributed to advancing ancient technology were the development of a calendar and the plow. Without Sumerian contributions to the ancient world, human advancement would have been seriously delayed.