City-States in 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.

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Ancient Mesopotamia

Mesopotamia, located in the Tigris-Euphrates region of the eastern Mediterranean, is vastly considered the cradle of civilization. Its name is very accurate, for split into two, the toponym is defined as "between two rivers". Including various empires and city-states, Mesopotamia has been under the rule of many kings, including who founded or conquered regions, and induced their own laws on the citizens. According to Wikipedia,

Bibcite: The study of ancient Mesopotamian architecture is based on available archaeological evidence, pictorial representation of buildings and texts on building practices.

Mesopotamians also developed their own spoken and written languages, the earliest known being the Sumerian language. Babylon, a city-state in Mesopotamia, is home to one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World - The Hanging Gardens. As you can see, this early civilization gave birth to much life and knowledge which are implied in daily lives around the world. This is merely a brief introduction to what we are about to show you - the world of Ancient Mesopotamia, the Beginning of civilization.

Geography

Most of he region between the Persian gulf and the Mediterranean in south west Asia was covered in desert area but there was a area in this desert region that was provided one of the best farming areas around Southwest Asia. This region was called Fertile Crescent because of the richness of the land and the area's shape, which includes the area called Mesopotamia that is located in the the land facing the Mediterranean Sea and a plain. The rivers inside the Mesopotamia were the Tigris and Euphrates which flow southeast to the Persian gulf.

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Economy

Mesopotamia, as was Egypt, was blessed with yearly flooding from the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. Unlike Egypt,the timing of its flooding could not be prevented.
This natural challenge hindered Mesopotamian’s agronomic culture,however, much of the silt brought by Euphrates and Tigris was extremely helpful for the crops in the land to grow, this phenomenon permitted the scholars to call this such fertile land,as the Fertile Crescent.
Although, they had the land,crops were constantly threatened by the flooding, obligating Mesopotamian’s farmer to create systems of irrigation based of approaching the flooding water to help the crop grow and at the same time, as a shelter for the crops to not be washed away by their threats.
Mesopotamia has had times of successful irrigation, and times of silt and salinity crises: the latter around 2000 BC, 1100 BC, and after 1200 AD. The first crisis may have been caused by water politics. In any irrigation system, the farmers most downstream are those most likely to be short of water in a dry year, or to receive the most polluted water

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Creation of City-States

Since Mesopotamia is located in the fertile plain between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers the people who settled in villages in the area were able to successfully develop agriculture. The use of irrigation led to crop surpluses, and this meant that the villages could grow and people could start performing other activities besides growing food. People began specializing in areas such as crafts making and trading.

Farmers, Artisans, and traders began gathering in specific areas in the villages in order to buy and sell their products. The farming villages turned into small centers of trade and later grew into Cities, as more people began settling there. Soon they realized that they needed someone to organize and direct activities. This led to the creation of government. Each city-state had its own government. The first leaders were the priests, and the center of the government and religion was a temple called ziggurat. Later due to constant wars army commanders became the rulers of these city-states.

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ZIGGURAT

Early Religion

In Mesopotamia, each town and city was believed to be protected by its own, unique deity or god. The temple, as the center of worship, was also the center of every city. The Mesopotamians believed that these pyramid temples connected heaven and earth. In fact, the ziggurat at Babylon was known as Etemenankia or "House of the Platform between Heaven & Earth".

Every single city had its own patron god or goddess who owned everything and everyone in the city. Everyone was expected to sing hymns, say prayers, make sacrifices and bring offerings to the local temple for the gods. The people trusted the priests and the priestesses in the temples to tell them what the gods or goddesses wanted, and they dutifully carried out their wishes. This made the leaders in the temples almost as powerful as the kings.

In Mesopotamia the people looked to religion to answer their questions about life and death, good and evil, and the forces of nature. The dingir followed themes, or divine laws, that governed the universe. The Sumerians believed in divine order, that is, everything that occurs is preplanned by the gods. There were four all-powerful gods that created and controlled the universe. The highest of the four gods was the sky-god An, the over-arching bowl of heaven; Next came Enlil who could either produce raging storms or act to help man; Nin-khursag was the earth goddess. The fourth god was Enki, the water god and patron of wisdom.

SumeRian CULTURE..

Possibly the most important aspect of Sumerian culture, and the one that has had the most lasting impact on the modern world and history, was the innovation of the Sumerian system of writing. The Sumerians writing system is called Cuneiform, or, "wedge shaped" writing. The roots of Sumerian writing come from financial transactions. To keep track of financial transactions, the ancient Sumerians used little clay figurines, representing a certain amount of a commodity, such as sheep or corn. They would group say, five sheep tokens with three corn tokens in a ball of clay to represent a transaction. On the outside of the ball of clay they would impress the tokens in the clay to make an imprint, making the contents of the ball (transaction) known.

www.petoskeyschools.org/…/sumerian_culture_and_contributio.htm

The First Empire Builders

For 1000 years the city-states of Sumer were constantly at war with each other. The weak city-states couldn’t protect themselves from attacks of the people from the surrounding deserts and hills. Even if the Sumerians couldn’t “get up” or recover from the attacks on their cities, they did not disappear.

Ancient Rulers

The Mesopotamians believed their kings and queens were descended from the City of Gods, but, unlike the ancient Egyptians, they never believed their kings were real gods. Most kings named themselves “king of the universe” or “great king”. Another common name was “shepherd”, as kings had to look after their people.

If you wish to learn more about the rulers of Mesopotamia, Sumer, Assyria, or Babylon, click here:

http://www.livius.org/cg-cm/chronology/mesopotamia.html

Sargon of Akkad

In about 2350 B.C., a conqueror named Sargon conquered the city-states of Sumer. Sargon led
His soldiers from Akkad a city-state north of sumer. When Sargon took control of southern and northern Mesopotamia he created the first empire. Since Sargon took control of southern and northern Mesopotamia he spread the Akkadian culture. Sargon’s empire lasted only like 200 years after it broke down, because of internal fighting, invasions, and famine.

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The Code of Hammurabi

The Code of Hammurabi, sixth king of the Amorite Dynasty of Old Babylon, is the most famous code after the Hebrew Torah. It is best known from a beautifully decorated diorite stela now in the Louvre Museum which also illustrates the king receiving the law from Shamash, the god of justice. This copy was made long after Hammurabi's time. It encodes many laws which had probably evolved over a long period of time and it tells us about the attitudes and daily lives of the ancient Babylonians.

Hammurabi’s Code is 44 columns of text, 28 paragraphs of which contain the actual code. There are 282 laws. It describes regulations for legal procedure, fixes rates on services performed in most branches of commerce and describes property rights, personal injury, and penalties for false testimony and accusations. It has no laws regarding religion.

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If you are interested, you can find The Code of Hammurabi in this website:
http://www.wsu.edu/~dee/MESO/CODE.HTM

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