The story

Mesopotamia: The Cradle of Civilization


The great civilizations and their organizations

The first civilizations formed from when man discovered agriculture and began to have a more sedentary life, around 4,000 BC. These first civilizations were formed around or due to great rivers: Mesopotamia was linked to the Tigris and Euphrates, Egypt to the Nile, India to the Indus, China to the Yellow.

It was in the Middle East that civilizations began. Later, other civilizations developed in the East, which, apart from the fertilizing power of the great rivers, gained diverse characteristics. The shepherds, like the Hebrews, or the mercantiles, like the Phoenicians. Each of these peoples had, besides a rich internal history, long and often conflicting relations with the others.

Mesopotamia

The narrow strip of land that lies between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers in the Middle East, where today is Iraq, was formerly called Mesopotamia, meaning “between rivers” (Greek, meso = in the middle; we pot = river). This region was occupied between 4,000 BC and 539 BC by a number of peoples who met and mingled, waged war and dominated each other, forming what we call Mesopotamian peoples. Sumerians, Babylonians, Hittites, Assyrians and Chaldeans are some of these people.

This civilization is considered one of the oldest in history.

The Sumerians (4000 BC - 1900 BC)

It was in the marshes of ancient Sumer that the first known cities in the Mesopotamian region emerged, such as Ur, Uruk, and Nipur.

The people of Sumer faced many natural obstacles. One of them was the violent and irregular floods of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. To contain the strength of the waters and make use of them, they built dikes, dams, reservoirs and also irrigation channels that led the waters to the dry regions.

Attributed to the Sumerians to develop a type of writing called cuneiform, which initially was created to record business transactions.

Cuneiform writing - also used by the Syrians, Hebrews and Persians - was an ideographic writing, in which the object represented expressed an idea, making it difficult to represent abstract sentiment, actions or ideas. Over time, pictorial signs became syllable system. The recordings were made in a plate of soft clay. A stylus was used for this, which had one wedge-shaped end, hence the name of cuneiform writing.

Who deciphered this writing was Henry C. Rawlinson, through the inscriptions of Behistun Rock. At the same time, another type of writing, hieroglyphics was developing in Egypt.


Cuneiform characters engraved in Sumer, circa 3200 BC.