The water control system was built up generation by generation, covering an ever wider area and involving an ever denser network of waterways. As a result of the large and concentrated population which grew up in Mesopotamia, farming was carried out by peasants rather than by slaves mass slavery tends to be a response to a shortage of labour. In early times these were bound to the land as temple or royal serfs; later, some became free farmers, owning their land outright, but many farmed estates owned by kings, temples, high officials and other wealthy members of the ruling classes.
All remained liable to forced labour on irrigation projects, or on the construction and maintenance of temples, palaces and city walls. Until the spread of the use of iron, in the first millennium BCE, farming implements were made of stone and bone — as they had been during the Stone Age. Metals such as bronze were far too expensive to use in this way, while copper was too soft for most uses. Wood was also quite rare, as there is little tree cover in the region.
However, the soil of Mesopotamia, once watered, is easy to work, and agriculture was highly productive. The plain of Mesopotamia was created in comparatively recent times from an geological point of view by the mud brought down by the rivers. This means that the region is very short of useful minerals such as stone for building, precious metals and timber. This had the effect of stimulating trade with neighbouring regions, and beyond. Later, Mesopotamian merchants ventured further afield, with trading contacts being developed with peoples in Syria and Asia Minor in the west, and in Iran and the Indus civilization , in the east.
With the coming of the Bronze Age, in about BCE, an added incentive to trade was the desire to acquire the copper and tin needed to make this valuable metal. Once Mesopotamian states started to equip their soldiers with bronze armour and weapons, this hunger intensified. However, these minerals are only found in widely scattered locations, so the search for them involved developing long distance trade routes.
Trade caravans of donkeys — camels were only domesticated after BCE were organized by specialist agents, to whom merchants entrusted their goods. Overland transport was by oxen. Most bulk goods such as the timbers brought from as far away as Lebanon was transported by river.
Sea-going ships were also used, with trading voyages being made to the ports of northern India. Metal coinage would not come into use until much later, but trade was based on a regulated system of exchange — a given amount of seed would be worth so many ounces of silver, for example. These relative values were enshrined in the law codes.
Temples acted as banks, with merchants and landowners acting as lenders. Temples also made loans on their own account. If the debt was repaid before the due date, no interest was levied. The ancient Mesopotamians lived in cities, which formed the core of the city-states. These cities were surrounded by numerous satellite villages, and in the case of the larger cities, smaller towns were also under their authority.
Estimates for the size of Mesopotamian cities vary wildly. However, a typical city may have housed 20, people, and a larger one 50, Once it became the chief city of southern Mesopotamia, Babylon could have had a population of as much as , The typical Mesopotamian city was built around the temple, a monumental structure sitting at the centre of a complex of granaries, storehouses and other administrative buildings.
From the mid-second millennium onwards, a monumental royal palace would also stand nearby, sometimes rivalling the temple in magnificence. One or more wide streets connected the central area to the city gates. Away from these public spaces, the large homes of the elite and the squat mud dwellings of the common people crowded together, interspersed by narrow passages down which even pack animals could not pass.
The stench must have been appalling, as most people had no means of disposing of their waste apart from into the street. No wonder the better-off houses had all their windows facing inwards, onto their courtyards! The larger cities followed the above pattern except that they were composed of several districts, each one centred on its own temple whose god was subordinate to the patron god of the city. The city proper would be enclosed by a stout mud or baked brick wall, pierced by guarded gates.
Just outside these gates were probably reed huts of those unable to afford to live inside the walls. The remains of such structures have long since perished, but carvings depict them, and many people in modern Iraq live in similar houses. Either joined to the main town, or a little distance from it, were the quays of the river or sea port. Around the harbour were the homes of foreign traders, who would not have been allowed to live in the city itself.
Surrounding this built up area was the territory ruled from the city. Nearest the city were the irrigated farms and meadows. Dense villages of closely-packed mud huts dotted this countryside, and every now and then the large courtyard-style house of a wealthy landowner. Beyond the fertile farmland would be the grassland where shepherds and nomads grazed their sheep and goat; and beyond this, the desert.
Most of the population in ancient Mesopotamia were farmers, working small plots of land. Above them stood a very small elite group made up of the ruling classes — kings, courtiers, officials, priests and soldiers.
Merchants and craftsmen also held a high position in society. The elite was greatly restricted in size by the difficulty, length of time and expense it took to acquire literacy and numeracy. The cuneiform script had hundreds of symbols to master, which took long years of hard schooling — and one can be sure that access to such schooling was available only to the children of elite families. In any case, the vast majority of ordinary folk needed their children to be contributing to the family income as soon as they were able, and not spending time in education.
All this would have given the members of the literati a huge amount of authority over the rest of the population. Only through exercising the skills of literacy and numeracy could the large bodies of people be organized. Very probably literacy was seen as a mysterious and sacred skill, conferring high status on those who possessed it.
In early Mesopotamia, members of this elite group would have been supported by temple revenues. Later still, as kings gave away landed estates, or as wealthy individuals were able to purchase them, the topmost levels of Mesopotamian society would have come to form an hereditary landed aristocracy. Near the bottom of society was an underclass of landless labourers and beggars. These had only restricted rights as citizens; and right at the bottom was a class of slaves, who had very few rights.
They could be bought and sold like other property. They had either been war captives, or had fallen into slavery through debt, or had been born into slavery. They worked as household servants, as workers in workshops, and in other menial roles. However, they could acquire property, and even own other slaves. They also had the right to buy their freedom, if they were able. Most marriages were monogamous, though concubines were farily frequent, especially in wealthy families, and more especially where the wife was unable to have children.
They had rights and duties as citizens, they could act as witnesses in court, and they could own property. A father could will his inheritance to any of his children, but generally daughters received an equal share with their brothers. Numerous technological advances can be attributed to the Mesopotamians: They also developed an impressive body of scientific knowledge through close observation of the natural world.
Exhaustive lists of animals, plants and minerals have come down to us, as well as lists of Geographical features — rivers, mountains, cities and peoples. Plans of cities have been discovered, the most complete one being of Nippur, which matches the maps made by archaeologists. The Mesopotamians also showed a practical grasp of chemical processes in many fields, for example in the preparation of recipes and pigments, and the manufacture of coloured glass. Mesopotamian science was particularly fruitful in three areas, mathematics, astronomy and medicine.
The Mesopotamians developed mathematics to a more advanced level than any contemporary people, and in so doing laid many of the foundations for modern mathematics. Mesopotamian scribes produced detailed mathematical tables, as well as texts posing advanced mathematical problems. From these we know that they developed a number system based on base 60, which has given us the minute hour, the hour day, and the degree circle. The Sumerian calendar was based on the seven-day week. Their number system, alone in the ancient world, had a place-marker to denote values, as in modern mathematics as in 3, when the number 3 represents 3,, , 30 and 3 respectively.
They developed theorems on how to measure the area of several shapes and solids, and came close to an accurate measure of the circumference of circles. They fully understood square roots and cube roots. This knowledge was not just theoretical. A major branch of Mesopotamian science was astronomy. Mesopotamian priests produced astronomical tables, and could predict eclipses and solstices. They worked out a month calendar based on the cycles of the moon. Mesopotamian astronomical knowledge was later to have a major influence on Greek astronomy.
As with most pre-modern cultures, astronomy and astrology were inextricably bound together: This was a powerful stimulus for priests to work out as exactly as they could the movement of the planets and stars. As in all ancient societies, medicine and religion went hand in hand. The duty of the doctor was to identify the sin which had caused such displeasure, and to prescribe the correct religious ceremony to bring about healing. It is clear, however, that many Mesopotamian doctors mingled this approach with a more practical study of the human body and its maladies.
Many tablets, for example a text called the Diagnostic Handbook, dated to 11th century BCE Babylon, list symptoms and prognoses. These show that Mesopotamian doctors had developed rational techniques of diagnosis, prognosis, physical examination, and prescriptions alongside the more mystical elements of their trade.
Diagnosis and prognosis were based on rules of empirical observation and logical reasoning as in modern medicine. Doctors used bandages, creams and pills in their treatments. This involved a sound understanding of the properties of different herbs and minerals. A large amount of ancient Mesopotamian literature has come down to us, much of it found in royal libraries dating from Assyria and late Babylonian times.
The literature is written in cuneiform script, and contains prayers, hymns, myths, epic poetry, collections of proverbs, works on theology, philosophy, politics and astrology, books of spells, historical records and many other kinds of texts. The main forms of Mesopotamian art which have come down to us are sculptured figures in stone and clay. Few paintings have survived, though most sculpture was also painted. Mesopotamian sculpture comes in all sizes, and appears in the round and as reliefs.
Others show gods and goddesses, as well as priests and worshippers. Most human figures from the early period have large, staring eyes, and, on men, long beards. As time goes by the figures become increasingly realistic. Under the Assyrian and Babylonian empires, sculpture takes on a colossal form, with giant statues guarding the royal palaces. On a smaller scale, cylinder seals come from all periods of Mesopotamian history.
Mesopotamian temples were designed to a rectangular plan. Early examples were constructed atop a small earthen platform; as time went by, these platforms became taller and taller, giving rise to the classic Mesopotamian ziggurat. Ziggurats probably represented the sacred mountain where gods and men could meet. They were brick-built temple-mounds, taking the form of a layered platform. Dendrochronological and radiocarbon research by an international team led by Cornell archaeologist Sturt Manning has established an absolute timeline for the archaeological, historical and environmental record in Mesopotamia from the early second millennium B.
The history of Mesopotamia ranges from the earliest human occupation in the Lower Sumaya The rise of the first cities in southern Mesopotamia dates to the Uruk period, from c. BC onward; its regional independence ended with the . Mesopotamia is a historical region in Western Asia situated within the Tigris– Euphrates river .. they have survived to the present day, allow accurate associations of relative with absolute dating for establishing the history of Mesopotamia.
Manning, the Goldwin Smith Professor of Classical Archaeology and director of the Cornell Tree-Ring Laboratory, resolved how to more accurately date the rich archaeological and textual record across years of ancient Near Eastern history — the time of such famous figures as Hammurabi of Babylon.
For several decades, scholars have debated discrepancies in chronological schemes for this period that were up to years or more apart. The previous inconsistencies in the timeline for ancient Mesopotamia stem from incomplete text records preserved on clay tablets, and existing, proposed and debated chronologies from other sources including partial astronomical records, archaeological materials such as ceramics, a tree-ring growth anomaly in Turkey originally thought to be caused by a volcanic eruption, and dates derived from radiocarbon dating.
The multiple and often conflicting timelines have vexed historians and other scholars for a century. The Babylonian astronomers were very adept at mathematics and could predict eclipses and solstices. Scholars thought that everything had some purpose in astronomy. Most of these related to religion and omens. Mesopotamian astronomers worked out a month calendar based on the cycles of the moon. They divided the year into two seasons: The origins of astronomy as well as astrology date from this time. During the 8th and 7th centuries BC, Babylonian astronomers developed a new approach to astronomy.
They began studying philosophy dealing with the ideal nature of the early universe and began employing an internal logic within their predictive planetary systems. This was an important contribution to astronomy and the philosophy of science and some scholars have thus referred to this new approach as the first scientific revolution.
In Seleucid and Parthian times, the astronomical reports were thoroughly scientific; how much earlier their advanced knowledge and methods were developed is uncertain. The Babylonian development of methods for predicting the motions of the planets is considered to be a major episode in the history of astronomy. The only Greek-Babylonian astronomer known to have supported a heliocentric model of planetary motion was Seleucus of Seleucia b. He supported Aristarchus of Samos' heliocentric theory where the Earth rotated around its own axis which in turn revolved around the Sun.
According to Plutarch , Seleucus even proved the heliocentric system, but it is not known what arguments he used except that he correctly theorized on tides as a result of Moon's attraction. The oldest Babylonian texts on medicine date back to the Old Babylonian period in the first half of the 2nd millennium BC. Along with contemporary Egyptian medicine , the Babylonians introduced the concepts of diagnosis , prognosis , physical examination , and prescriptions. In addition, the Diagnostic Handbook introduced the methods of therapy and aetiology and the use of empiricism , logic , and rationality in diagnosis, prognosis and therapy.
The text contains a list of medical symptoms and often detailed empirical observations along with logical rules used in combining observed symptoms on the body of a patient with its diagnosis and prognosis. The symptoms and diseases of a patient were treated through therapeutic means such as bandages , creams and pills.
C for the construction of the palace Assessment of the series would be more certain if one knew whether the beams were relatively short-lived poplar or longer-lived wood such as cedar The Abu Salabikh determinations used here are those from the Early Dynastic III building of Area four from the University of Chicago Excavations directed by. For the first time, an empire arose on Mesopotamian soil. Sources and further reading on Ancient Mesopotamia Click here for more resources on Ancient Mesopotamia. When watered by means of irrigation channels, it makes some of the best farmland in the world. More sets of stratified samples must be dated and chronometric techniques independent of the carbon 14 age chronology must be applied if we are to have an adequate temporal framework for the period of early state and urban development. The Santorini eruption, pivotal to debates over eastern Mediterranean chronology and the history of Aegean archaeology, probably dates to the late 17th century B. This marked the end of city-states ruling empires in Mesopotamia, and the end of Sumerian dominance, but the succeeding rulers adopted much of Sumerian civilization as their own.
If a patient could not be cured physically, the Babylonian physicians often relied on exorcism to cleanse the patient from any curses. Esagil-kin-apli's Diagnostic Handbook was based on a logical set of axioms and assumptions, including the modern view that through the examination and inspection of the symptoms of a patient, it is possible to determine the patient's disease , its aetiology, its future development, and the chances of the patient's recovery.
Esagil-kin-apli discovered a variety of illnesses and diseases and described their symptoms in his Diagnostic Handbook. These include the symptoms for many varieties of epilepsy and related ailments along with their diagnosis and prognosis. Mesopotamian people invented many technologies including metal and copper-working, glass and lamp making, textile weaving, flood control, water storage, and irrigation.
They were also one of the first Bronze Age societies in the world. They developed from copper, bronze, and gold on to iron.
Palaces were decorated with hundreds of kilograms of these very expensive metals. Also, copper, bronze, and iron were used for armor as well as for different weapons such as swords, daggers, spears, and maces. According to a recent hypothesis, the Archimedes' screw may have been used by Sennacherib, King of Assyria, for the water systems at the Hanging Gardens of Babylon and Nineveh in the 7th century BC, although mainstream scholarship holds it to be a Greek invention of later times. Ancient Mesopotamian religion was the first recorded.
Mesopotamians believed that the world was a flat disc, [ citation needed ] surrounded by a huge, holed space, and above that, heaven. They also believed that water was everywhere, the top, bottom and sides, and that the universe was born from this enormous sea. In addition, Mesopotamian religion was polytheistic. Although the beliefs described above were held in common among Mesopotamians, there were also regional variations. The Sumerian word for universe is an-ki , which refers to the god An and the goddess Ki. They believed that Enlil was the most powerful god.
He was the chief god of the pantheon. The Sumerians also posed philosophical questions, such as: The numerous civilizations of the area influenced the Abrahamic religions , especially the Hebrew Bible ; its cultural values and literary influence are especially evident in the Book of Genesis. Giorgio Buccellati believes that the origins of philosophy can be traced back to early Mesopotamian wisdom , which embodied certain philosophies of life, particularly ethics , in the forms of dialectic , dialogues , epic poetry , folklore , hymns , lyrics , prose works, and proverbs.
Babylonian reason and rationality developed beyond empirical observation. The earliest form of logic was developed by the Babylonians, notably in the rigorous nonergodic nature of their social systems.
Babylonian thought was axiomatic and is comparable to the "ordinary logic" described by John Maynard Keynes. Babylonian thought was also based on an open-systems ontology which is compatible with ergodic axioms. Babylonian thought had a considerable influence on early Ancient Greek and Hellenistic philosophy.
In particular, the Babylonian text Dialogue of Pessimism contains similarities to the agonistic thought of the Sophists , the Heraclitean doctrine of dialectic , and the dialogs of Plato , as well as a precursor to the Socratic method. Ancient Mesopotamians had ceremonies each month.
The theme of the rituals and festivals for each month was determined by at least six important factors:. Some songs were written for the gods but many were written to describe important events. Although music and songs amused kings , they were also enjoyed by ordinary people who liked to sing and dance in their homes or in the marketplaces. Songs were sung to children who passed them on to their children.
Thus songs were passed on through many generations as an oral tradition until writing was more universal.
These songs provided a means of passing on through the centuries highly important information about historical events. The oldest pictorial record of the Oud dates back to the Uruk period in Southern Mesopotamia over years ago. It is on a cylinder seal currently housed at the British Museum and acquired by Dr. The image depicts a female crouching with her instruments upon a boat, playing right-handed. This instrument appears hundreds of times throughout Mesopotamian history and again in ancient Egypt from the 18th dynasty onwards in long- and short-neck varieties.
The oud is regarded as a precursor to the European lute. The Arabic name, with the definite article, is the source of the word 'lute'. Hunting was popular among Assyrian kings. Boxing and wrestling feature frequently in art, and some form of polo was probably popular, with men sitting on the shoulders of other men rather than on horses.
They also played a board game similar to senet and backgammon , now known as the " Royal Game of Ur ". Mesopotamia, as shown by successive law codes, those of Urukagina , Lipit Ishtar and Hammurabi , across its history became more and more a patriarchal society , one in which the men were far more powerful than the women. For example, during the earliest Sumerian period, the "en" , or high priest of male gods was originally a woman, that of female goddesses, a man.
Thorkild Jacobsen, as well as many others, has suggested that early Mesopotamian society was ruled by a "council of elders" in which men and women were equally represented, but that over time, as the status of women fell, that of men increased. As for schooling, only royal offspring and sons of the rich and professionals, such as scribes, physicians, temple administrators, went to school. Most boys were taught their father's trade or were apprenticed out to learn a trade. Some children would help with crushing grain or cleaning birds. Unusually for that time in history, women in Mesopotamia had rights.
They could own property and, if they had good reason, get a divorce. Hundreds of graves have been excavated in parts of Mesopotamia, revealing information about Mesopotamian burial habits. In the city of Ur , most people were buried in family graves under their houses, along with some possessions. A few have been found wrapped in mats and carpets. Deceased children were put in big "jars" which were placed in the family chapel. Other remains have been found buried in common city graveyards. It is assumed that these were royal graves.
Rich of various periods, have been discovered to have sought burial in Bahrein, identified with Sumerian Dilmun. Irrigated agriculture spread southwards from the Zagros foothills with the Samara and Hadji Muhammed culture, from about 5, BC. It was comparable in some ways to modern post-Keynesian economics , but with a more "anything goes" approach.