Mesopotamian Civilization Essay

Mesopotamia: The First Civilization Essay

Around 3,000 B.C., the Sumerians began to colonize the fertile valleys between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers. This area was called Mesopotamia, which in Greek means, "land between the rivers." Through their developments of writing, architecture, economy, government, religion, agriculture, and technology, the Sumerians created what we know today as civilized life.

The greatest achievement of the Sumerians was the invention of cuneiform style writing. They would engrave their picture words using reeds as a writing instrument on wet clay, which would then dry into stone-hard tablets. Eventually, they converted their picture words to a short-hand consisting of wedged lines created by bending the reed against the wet clay and moving the end closest to the hand back and forth once. We still use a short-hand form of writing today.

The Sumerians architectural achievements were most impressive. They were masters of construction using bricks made of mud. They developed vast extensive buildings, elaborate brick house, palaces, and temples. The Sumerians developed the arch and the column. These accomplishments greatly influenced our civilization.

Mesopotamia was divided into independent city-states. The cities were centers of trade. Their economy relied heavily on foreign and domestic trade. Trade and commerce developed in Mesopotamia, because the farmers grew more food than they could eat. They used the surplus to trade for goods and services. Many aspects of our modern enterprise economy have their roots in the early civilizations of Mesopotamia.

The Sumerians seem to have developed one of the worlds first systems of monarchy. Because their government was based on religion, a priest-king administered the...

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The Mesopotamian civilization is among the ancient formations that the world has ever witnessed. The civilization is associated with the flow and ebb of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. The rainfall patterns in the region meant that the northern part was more occupied than the other parts. The citizens' economy was primarily agricultural (Benton and DiYanni 1-34). A rough estimate shows that about two hundred people occupied the permanent villages of Mesopotamia. The land between the two rivers was more fertile, but the absence of adequate rainfall meant that irrigation had to be used. It is also suggested that occasional flooding contributed to the unattractiveness of the southern part.

Mesopotamia at the Forefront of Urbanization

The civilization in Mesopotamia arose due to the fertility of the soil. The fertile soils allowed the Mesopotamians to produce surplus food. Having surplus food allowed people to settle. As settlements sprung up, towns and cities also began to develop. Thus, Mesopotamia was at the forefront of urbanization. It is also remarkable that an increase in settlements led to an expansion in the population size. As the population grew job specialization, division of labor, a high degree of organization, cooperation and kingship became possible. With the emergence of towns and cities, levels of interaction grew.

The Mesopotamia region was also characterized by variations in wealth. Early farmers occupied different parts of Mesopotamia (Benton and DiYanni 1-34). As already pointed, the southern part was more fertile. Hence, farmers from the south were wealthier. This led to the emergence of social classes. Similarly, the role of decision-making came up since there was a need for collective construction of dykes, canals, ditches, etc. On the other hand, the need for regulation and controls called for cooperation. The region also built religious facilities, which were used for purposes of worshiping. Priests were in charge of the spiritual life of the Mesopotamian people. With time, the Mesopotamian villages evolved to become self-sufficient and autonomous cities. Although the cities were not quite autonomous in an economic sense, eventually they became politically independent.

The aspect that strikes me most is the manner in which simple villages transformed into independent city-states. At the time that Mesopotamia was coming up, few known cities operated independently. Moreover, the life at this time was nomadic. However, the argument that Mesopotamia being fertile was the main reason the people chose to stay, does not convince wholly. For instance, this was not the only fertile place. Maybe other factors, such as location could have played a role in the decisions of the people to stay there. However, it remains fascinating how the villages evolved to become independent city-states. Additionally, the cities chose to become politically independent. I find it to be surprising that there was no unified system for governing the country.

Present day Iraq draws several parallels with Mesopotamia. Mesopotamia was a composition of independent city-states. This is no longer the case in Iraq, since the country is a unitary state. Earlier on, Mesopotamia was primarily driven by an agricultural economy. On the contrary, the economy of Iraq is primarily driven by oil production. However, the two, Mesopotamia and Iraq highly regarded religion. Based on this evidence, Iraq is not a replica of Mesopotamia.

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