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Mesopotamia an area geographically located between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. Mesopotamia means the land between two rivers. Mesopotamia began as urban societies in southern Iraq in 5000 BC, and ends in the 6th century BC.

Impact of Geography

It was the two rivers that became the basis upon which the wealth of the region
There was never a regular supple of water in Mesopotamia but the soil was so enriched over the years by the layers of silt which is material deposited by the two rivers
The valley between the Tigris and the Euphrates River was known as the land "between the rivers" in Greek
An arc of land from the Mediterranean Sea to the Persian Gulf called the Fertile Crescent had rich soil and abundant crops to sustain life in the early civilization
Ancient Mesopotamia consists of current day Assyria, Akkad, and Sumer
The three main independent cities in Southern Mesopotamia were Eridu, Ur, and Urak, these cities had a political and economic over the surrounding countryside


The Sumerian city-states was based on farming and trade
Industry became an important factor in civilization as well
The people of Mesopotamia were known for their metalwork, woolen textiles, and pottery
Copper, tin, and timber were imported goods exchanged for dried fish, wool, wheat, and metal goods
Around 3000 B.C. the invention of the wheel was created making transportation of good easier and quicker

Social Structure

There were three major social groups in the Sumerian city-states
The groups were the nobles, commoners, and the slaves
The Nobles included many of the royal and religious officials
The Commoners worked for palace and temple domain, they also worked as farmers, merchants, and crafts people
More than 90 percent of the people in Mesopotamia were farmers due to the rich soil
The slaves worked in building buildings and also belonged to the palace officials


The most famous and important building in the Sumerian city was the temple dedicated to the gods and goddesses of the city.
The temple was called a ziggurat and was built atop a massive stepped tower
Housing were built by sun-dried bricks
A small portion of buildings were made by stone or wood

Characters/Gender Roles

 Female slaves:

Often used to weave cloth and grind grains

 The Sumerian kings:

Families lived in large palaces and helped rule







Writing system
Number system
First wheeled vehicles
Irrigation systems


 What they believed:
In Mesopotamia, each town and city was believed to be protected by a god
The Mesopotamians believed that these pyramid temples connected heaven and earth
At first, many religious events were held at the temple but later as priesthood developed, the temple became the center of both religion and learning for the entire community
The gods in Sumerian were called dingir
Their gods and goddesses had supernatural powers
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 (ziggurat) for the gods
In Mesopotamia the people looked to religion to answer their questions about life and death, good and evil, and the forces of nature
The Sumerians believed in divine order, that is, everything that occurs is preplanned by the gods
There are four all-powerful gods that created and controlled the universe
An was the god of heaven
Enlil was the air-god
Enki was the water-god
Ninhursag was the mother earth-goddess
Each of these gods created lesser gods who were also important in Mesopotamia
Utu, the sun-god
Nanna was the moon-god


One of the greatest accomplishments of the Sumerian people was the invention of the earliest known system of writing
The Sumerians created written documents by using a triangular-tipped stylus to make wedge-shaped impressions in soft clay
Enuma Elish and Gilgamesh are examples of great religious literature, while the Code of Hammurabi is one of the greatest early examples of juridical literature
People who lived north of the Sumerian city-states also known as Akkadians (Semitic) spoke a Semitic language