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Information About Mesopotamia, Cradle of Civilizations

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Mesopotamia is a region of southwest Asia, located between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers and is very favorable in terms of both climate and geography as a region that hosted the beginning of human civilization. Mesopotamia contains many important discoveries in its history that changed the world such as the concept of time, mathematics, wheel, sailboat, maps, and writing. Mesopotamia is also a region known to have been ruled by various rulers from many different regions and cities for thousands of years in history.


Where is Mesopotamia?


Mesopotamia is located in the region known today as the Middle East, which includes parts of southwest Asia and the lands around the Eastern Mediterranean. Mesopotamia is a part of the Fertile Crescent, also known as the “Cradle of Civilization”, as the first societies, one of the oldest known human civilizations on earth, invented many things in this region.

The word Mesopotamia consists of the words “meso” meaning in the middle or between, and “potamos” meaning river. Located in the fertile valley of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers between this region, today in Iraq, Kuwait, Turkey, and Syria it is home to.


Mesopotamian Civilization


People first settled in Mesopotamia in the Paleolithic age. By 14,000 BC, the people of the region were living in small settlements with circular houses. Five thousand years later, these houses formed farming communities after the domestication of animals and the development of agriculture, as well as irrigation techniques developed thanks to their proximity to the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. Agricultural development was a product of the dominant Ubaid culture that had previously absorbed the Halaf culture


Ancient Mesopotamia


These scattered farming communities started in the northern part of the ancient Mesopotamia region and spread to the south. They continued to grow for several millennia until they formed what modern people would describe as the city, built by the Sumerians. Uruk was the first of these cities, dating back to 3200 BC. It was an adobe metropolis with public works of art, huge columns, and temples built on wealth from trade and conquest. This city housed a population of 50,000 people at its peak.

The Sumerians also invented cuneiform, the ancient written language they used to keep detailed records. In 3000 BC Mesopotamia was under the strict control of the Sumerian people. There were also several decentralized city-states within the Sumerian civilization: Eridu, Nippur, Lagash, Uruk, Kish, and Ur.

The first king of the unified Sumerian civilization was recorded as Etana of Kish. However, it is not known whether Etana existed, because Etana and many rulers included in the List of Sumerian Kings made around 2100 BC are also included in Sumerian mythology. Etana was followed by Meskiaggasher, the king of the city-state of Uruk. Around 2750 BC, a warrior named Lugalbanda took control of the region.


Gilgamesh


It is said that the legendary Gilgamesh, who was the subject of the Gilgamesh Epic, is the son of Lugalbanda. It is believed that Gilgamesh was born around 2700 BC in Uruk. The Epic of Gilgamesh is considered the oldest great work of literature and a source of inspiration for some of the biblical stories. In this epic poem, Gilgamesh goes on an adventure with a friend to the Cedar Forest, known as the land of the gods in Mesopotamian mythology. When his friend is killed, Gilgamesh goes on a quest to discover the secret of eternal life and discovers: “You will never find the life you seek because when the gods created man, they let him take his life in his own hands and death be part of his life.



King Lugalzagesi was the last king of the Sumerians who were defeated by Sargon, ruler of the Akkads, a Semitic race, in 2334 BC. They were initially allies, together they conquered the city of Kish, but the Akkadian army of Lugalzagesi’s mercenaries was ultimately loyal to Sargon.


Sargon and Akkadian


The Akkadian Empire existed between 2234-2154 BC under the leadership of the ruler who is now known as Sargon the Great. This empire has been recognized as the world’s first multicultural empire with a central government.

There is not much information about Sargon’s past. However, according to legends, Sargon’s life is similar to the story of Moses in the Bible. Sargon was initially an officer working for the king of Kish and founded the city of Akkad himself. When the Uruks occupied the city of Kish, Sargon saved the city of Kish from them and was encouraged to continue their conquests.

Sargon expanded his empire using military means and conquered all of Sumer and advanced as far as present-day Syria. During the Sargon period, trade beyond Mesopotamian borders grew and architectural structures became more sophisticated. The best example of this is the pyramid-shaped structures called a ziggurat with a flat top and steps.


Guti


Shar-kali-sharri, the last king of the Akkadian Empire. He died in 2193, and there was unrest in Mesopotamia over a century of different groups struggling to gain control. Among these groups was Guti, known as barbarians living in the Zagros mountains. Guti rule is considered an irregular period that caused a serious decline in the empire.


Ur-Nammu


B.C. In 2100, the city of Ur tried to create a dynasty to establish a new empire. After Utu-Bengal, the leader of the city of Uruk, defeated the Guti, the king of Ur, Ur-Nammu, succeeded in bringing the Sumerian people back to power.

For the first time in history since the record was started, a law called the Ur-Nammu Law was issued during the Ur-Nammu period. Ur-Nammu BC. In 2004, it was attacked and defeated by both the Elamites and the Amorites.


Babylonians


Choosing Babylon as their capital, Amorites took control and founded Babylon. Kings were considered gods, and the most famous of these was Hammurabi, who became king between 1792-1750 BC. The Babylonians were almost constantly at war as Hammurabi strived to expand his empire.

Historically, Hammurabi is known for its laws, better known as the Hammurabi Laws, designed around 1772 BC. Hammurabi’s innovation was not just to write laws for all to see, but rather to ensure that everyone in the empire obeyed the same laws. In this way, the governors were prevented from making their laws. The laws also included penalties that could be imposed to ensure that every citizen was treated fairly. In 1750 BC the Elamites conquered the city of Ur. This conquest meant the end of both Amorite power and Sumerian culture.


Hittites


The Hittites living around Anatolia and Syria conquered Babylon around 1595 BC. Smelting was an important contribution to the history of the Hittites, and as a result, the Hittites invented more sophisticated weapons that would allow them to further expand their empire. In the end, however, their efforts to keep their technology to themselves failed, and other empires managed to reach their level.

Shortly after the Hittites plundered Babylon, the Kassites withdrew and took control of the city of Kassites. While under the rule of the Hittites, Mesopotamia received a lot of immigration from India and Europe and travels accelerated with the running of the horses on carriages. The Kassites, on the other hand, after preserving their own culture for several generations, eventually could not survive and were assimilated into Babylonian civilization.


Mesopotamian Gods


In Mesopotamia, there was a polytheistic religious belief that its followers worshiped several mother gods and thousands of minor gods. There were three main gods: Ea (Sumerian: Enki), the god of wisdom and magic, Anu (Sumerian: An), the god of the sky, and Enlil (Ellil), the god of earth, storm, and agriculture, holding the destinies of the people. Ea is mentioned as the creator and protector of humanity in both the Gilgamesh Epic and the Great Flood. According to the second story, Ea created humans from clay, but God Enlil wanted to destroy humanity by creating a flood. Ea had people built a ship so that the human race was saved from extinction. This story may seem familiar to many people from somewhere. Many Mesopotamian religious stories such as the Garden of Eden, the Great Flood, and the Tower of Babel are included in the Bible, and the Mesopotamian religion influenced both Christianity and Islam.