Mesopotamia

Over five thousand years ago, people living in Mesopotamia developed a form of writing to record and communicate different types of information.The earliest writing was based on pictograms. Pictograms were used to communicate basic information about crops and taxes.Over time, the need for writing changed and the signs developed into a script that people call cuneiform.Over thousands of years, Mesopotamian scribes recorded daily events, trade, astronomy, and literature on clay tablets. Cuneiform was used by people throughout the ancient Near East to write several different languages.

During the earliest years of recorded history, the ancient Mesopotamians were experimenting with ways to count, measure, and solve mathematical problems. They were the first to give a number a place value and to recognize the concept of zero.The ancient Mesopotamians did not have a money economy, so they developed a standardized system of weights to carry out their many commercial transactions. The original medium of exchange was barley. The smallest unit of weight was called a barleycorn, the approximate weight of one grain of barley. Other standard units of weight were the shekel, the mina, and the talent or load. Eventually, silver replaced barley as the medium of exchange, not as coinage but rather as small pieces that had the same weight as a shekel of barley.