Mesopotamia - The Land Between Two Rivers

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1 Mesopotamia - The Land Between Two Rivers Mesopotamia was a place where many ancient cities were established. The word Mesopotamia means located between two rivers. The two rivers were the Tigris River and the Euphrates River. Mesopotamia was located in what we now call the Middle East (a part of Asia), specifically the country of Iraq. It is surrounded by desert. People came to Mesopotamia in ancient times because the soil between the two rivers was very fertile and, therefore, good for farming.

2 Mesopotamia was located in what we now call the Middle East.

3 Mesopotamia was where the country of Iraq is located today.

4 Mesopotamia was part of a larger region called the Fertile Crescent. The shape is somewhat similar to a crescent (think of a crescent roll, or a crescent-shaped moon). This area stretched from the eastern edge of the Mediterranean Sea down to the Persian Gulf and had fertile soil. This was where many civilizations started.

5

6 Cradle of Civilization After a baby is born, he or she is placed in a cradle which is why the phrase cradle of civilization is used to describe the place where civilizations were born. Mesopotamia is called the cradle of civilization because the first civilizations began there around 3500 B.C. (5,500 years ago).

7 Why Did These Cities Develop? Due to the fertile soil in Mesopotamia, farming was very successful. Once flooding was controlled by irrigation methods, people were able to create a surplus of food. This made it possible for some people to stop farming and begin doing other things like: *build cities * learn a trade * become a scribe * etc. As cities began to develop, people began to worry about others who might come and invade their city. They wanted to protect themselves from enemies, so people in Mesopotamia built walls around their cities.

8 City-States Formed Along the Rivers Many city-states formed along the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers in Mesopotamia. The southern region where the two rivers meet was called Sumer. The people who lived here were called Sumerians.

9 Education in Sumer Remember, Sumer is the region where the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers meet. The first schools were set up in Sumer over 4,000 years ago. In Sumerian schools, boys from wealthy families were taught cuneiform, a written language. Those who graduated became professional writers called scribes. Scribes were the only people who could keep records for the kings and priests.

10 Sumerian Writing Scribes used a sharp point called a stylus to etch words into clay tablets. These tablets have been discovered by archaeologists and looked at by historians.

11 Sumerian Streets Sumerian city streets were so narrow that you could hardly get a cart through them. Sumerian houses faced away from crowded streets. Instead, they faced courtyards where families ate and children played. Narrow Streets Courtyard Area

12 Sumerian Homes Sumerians provided light for themselves at night by burning oil in pottery lamps. Very wealthy Sumerians even had plumbing! Clay pipes that were buried underground carried their waste away. Inventions like plumbing wouldn t come around for another thousand years in other parts of the world! It was not unusual for families to sleep out on the rooftop on especially hot nights.

13 Sumerian Religion Sumerians worshipped many gods, not just one. This belief in many gods is called polytheism. Poly means many and theism means gods. The picture above shows a ziggurat which was the main temple in the center of the city. It was believed to be the home of the god who watched over that city. People didn t go inside of ziggurats; only priests could. Ziggurats had steps and ramps that led from the ground to the top. Historians believe that each ziggurat had a shrine room at the top where priests would leave sacrifices.

14 Sumerian Mythology Sumerian myths, or stories, explained people s beliefs. Sumerians believed that a person must keep the gods happy by praying to them or going to the ziggurat and leaving them sacrifices. They believed that the gods would reward them for good service. They also believed that the gods would punish the people who made them angry. ziggurat

15 The Downfall of the Sumerians Each Sumerian city-state had a ruler. These city-states began fighting over land, the use of river water and who owned certain irrigation canals. Since the Sumerians were constantly at war with each other and never united into one group, they became weak. By 2300 BC, Mesopotamia (including Sumer) was conquered by another group of people the Akkadians, who were from the north. The Sumerians will always be remembered by historians as the people who established one of the first civilizations.

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