Mesopotamia Informational Website
By Will Lauseng
-Irrigation was an extremely important invention for the people of mesopotamia. Irrigation allowed the farmers to control when and how much water their crops got. Mesopotamia was located in a desert, so rainfall was very low. Without irrigation, the crops would be scorched in the blazing heat of the area. When the snow would melt in the north, from the mountains of Anatolia, it would cause the Tigris and Euphrates to overflow. The effect of this flooding was fertile soil for the people of Mesopotamia to use in farming. Irrigation allowed the people of Mesopotamia to control the flooding, by digging ditches to their fields, resulting in a water supply, even in a desert. Without irrigation, the farmers would not be able to farm very well. WIthout irrigation, the fields would produce very little or no food, thus resulting in the people starving to death. Irrigation allowed the farmers to produce a surplus of food, which they could use in trading for things they didn’t have. Having a bunch of money wouldn’t matter if there were no crops to eat because everybody would die. Having a bunch of money does a person no good if there is no food. It doesn’t matter if you have a wheel because once again, without irrigation, no food. What good does it do you to be able to write? Being able to write doesn’t put food on the table.
The people of Mesopotamia developed a new way to construct buildings. They used bricks. To make these bricks, the people used mud and straw. They would mix these two ingredients together and let them dry in the scorching sun. This would produce a very hard, durable brick. As a result of this invention, the people were able to build buildings that were very strong. Also, this invention allowed the people to easily make buildings because there was a lot of mud and straw in the area. This was an extremely important event in Mesopotamia because people were able to protect themselves. Without this protection, they could get attacked by warriors, wild animals, or natural disasters. If you grow a bunch of food, but have nowhere to store it, then its going to get destroyed. If you have a bunch of money or know how to write, it does you no good if you have no safe place to stay. It would have been impossible to build the hanging gardens without these sun-dried bricks.
The chariot allowed the people of Mesopotamia to be much more mobile. These event was a huge step forward in progressing as a civilization. The chariot is a two wheeled cart that is pulled by a horse. This allowed the people of Mesopotamia to move around and travel much easier and faster. Before the chariot, it took people forever to walk to places. Now, with the chariot, people can get around much better and produce more crops and goods. Irrigation is good, but a lot of the crops would go to waste if there wasn't a quick way to get it to the storage bins. If it was up to the people to haul the crops by foot, much of it would go to waste because it would take too long. Ziggurats are big and cool, but if it takes people 2 days to get there, not very many people will go. With the chariot, people are able to get places much faster and do more things.
Code of Hammurabi
Without question, the code of Hammurabi is one of the most important events of Mesopotamia. The Code of Hammurabi is a set of 282 laws that were written down by Babylonian King Hammurabi. This was a major step in the rise of Mesopotamia being a powerful civilization because for the first time, the people had to obey the law, or face the consequences. Can you imagine a world without law? You may think it sounds fun and exciting. You may think, “No law?? Hooray! No school!” But just think for a moment how dangerous life would be. If there were no consequences to doing bad things, people would go crazy. People would steal, kill, assault. Without law, total chaos would erupt. So you think money is important? Well, if you had a million bucks, it would all get robbed without law. You would be attacked for sure. Would good would a wheel do if you were constantly in hiding because you were scared you would get hurt. Law brought order and stability to the people of Mesopotamia. It made it clear that if you were bad, you would get punished.
The creation of the Ziggurat is a major event in the history of Mesopotamia. A ziggurat is a pyramid shaped building used to worship the gods. This building is a symbolic structure that has had a lasting impression. It is still studied and viewed today, over 4,000 years later. This building gave the people of Mesopotamia a place to worship, which was a major step towards creating a civilization. It was a symbol for the people of Mesopotamia to believe it. The people believed that the most powerful god lived in the sky. They built the ziggurat so high to get as close to the sky as possible. The largest structure in the whole town was always the ziggurat. This was done to show how important it was to the people and their beliefs. In times of war, it also served a very important role. Since it was so high, the ziggurat was used as a watch tower. People could see in all directions, so if an enemy force was advancing, they would be able to see that long before they arrived at the gates. This gave the army a chance to get ready. Sure there are other important events, but without the ziggurat, it would have been much easier for an enemy army to attack the city and destroy it.
Rise of Kings
Never before in the world were there Kings until Mesopotamia rose. Before Mesopotamia, people had no organization, no structure, no leader. Everybody was out for themselves, or maybe a group, trying to survive. There was no leadership. Without leadership, no progress can occur. Once Mesopotamia began to have Kings, things changed. Now, the people had a leader. They people had someone who took control and helped them progress. If people are left without any leadership or direction, nothing gets done. A King, or a leader, is needed to unite the people. As a bunch of individuals, nothing is accomplished, but as one, great things can happen. The kings of Mesopotamia gave the people direction and purpose. What good would a law do if there was no King to enforce it? The law, without a king, would be useless. Many people argue that if it wasn’t for the King and that leadership, progress would not have been made in farming, writing, religion, or building. It was the king that established purpose for the people and led them towards progress.
Development of Writing System
Without question, the development of a writing system was a major event in not only the history of Mesopotamia, but in the history of the world. Before Mesopotamia, there was no system of writing. Nothing was written down. No records were kept, no journals, no diaries, no descriptions of what the world was like. Since nothing was written down, archaeologists have had to study artifacts to figure out the past. This can be done, but it leads to archaeologists creating a lot of theories on what they think happened. This is not the case with Mesopotamia. Their development of Cuneiform resulted in things being written down. Records were kept, people wrote down what things were like, what was happening, what they did, etc. Can you imagine world without writing? A world without language? Can you imagine the difficulty in communicating if there were no system of writing? It would be extremely difficult and progress (if any) would be very slow. Being able to write and keep track of things allowed the people of Mesopotamia to develop a complex and organized civilization. There would be no way a group of people would be able to rise and progress without a system of writing. Without writing, money would not have been able to be developed. Farming would not have evolved to irrigation, the code of Hammurabi would not have been possible, and Kings would have had no control. Being able to write things down helped the people not repeat the same mistakes. They could look back at the records and make sure they did things differently.
The people of Mesopotamia started a system of money to get what they lacked. During Mesopotamia, trading was a major method in getting something that you wanted. However, people began to want to be able to get things without having to give up something. Imagine if there was no money in our world. Imagine the only way to get something was to give up something. What do you think? Things certainly would be a lot different. With the trading system, if you wanted something to eat, you would have to give up something. If you wanted a new pair of shoes, you would have to give up something. With money, that all changed. People no longer had to give up something to get something, they simply bought it. The very early stages of money was developed by the Lydians during the days of Mesopotamia and it has obviously lasted through time to become a major factor in our world. Money drives people. Money allows people to create the life they want. There are many inventions of Mesopotamia that are significant. Perhaps none can rival the importance of money in today’s world. Think about it: want to set up some irrigation in our world? You must buy it. Want to use things with wheels? You have to buy it. Punishment for not obeying many laws? Having to pay a fine.
It appears to be such a simply invention. The wheel totally changed how people lived and worked in Mesopotamia. The wheel made so many more things possible. In a farming community like Mesopotamia, it allowed the people to transport their crops using the wheels, which meant it was a lot easier to get the crops to the storage bins and into the towns. Picture a huge load of wheat. It would be very difficult to move that load of wheat without the wheel. Yes, irrigation is important to the people of Mesopotamia and to growing crops, but what if you are unable to transport those crops? They will all go to waste. Irrigation does you no good without a the wheel, which provides a way to transport the crops to where you want them to go. It was moving and traveling much easier. How would you use a chariot without the wheel? Think about today: how often does the wheel impact your life? The answer: everyday. Something that impacts your day every day must be pretty significant.
Epic of Gilgamesh
This event, the first book ever written, was a significant event in the history of Mesopotamia. This set the stage for all other books to follow. If you think about it, that is quite the impressive thing, to be what started books! With the Epic of Gilgamesh and the creation of books, the people of Mesopotamia were able to tell stories, record history, and set the world on a path of reading and learning. A civilization can not grow if there is no reading and learning. A civilization without books will remain ignorant, stuck in place, unable to move forward. Reading books allows people to gain knowledge and become smarter, which results in ideas, creativity, progress. A world without books is an ignorant one, a world that would see no progress. There are many important events of Mesopotamia. However, without books, we would have a civilization severely lacking the brain power to keep progressing and advancing. The “today” test again provides a clear indication of the importance of this event. No books today? Definitely not a good thing.
Rise of City-States
The rise of city-states was a total game changer for the people of the world. In the stone age, people lived in tribes and migrated with the animals, which they depended on for everything. They did not have a permanent home. Once the Mesopotamians started to establish city-states, the civilization really started to grow and prosper. The rise of city-states meant that the people did not have to constantly wander around the earth, hoping to find animals to hunt. With the rise of city-states, the people stayed in one place and worked together. They each had a role in the city-state. Some people farmed, some people built tools, some people were priests, some people were herders, etc. The people were able to work together to help each other, they were able to specialize in certain things and get really good at it. The rise of city-states meant that the people were able to make progress and move their civilization forward. There is no question that Mesopotamia had many huge events. But where would they be if they were still out wandering the countryside? Where would they be if they were still just hunter/gatherers just trying to survive on their own? A bunch of people working as individuals is weak, but a bunch of people working as one unit is strong. It is when people come together and work together that other events and inventions become possible. Without the rise of city-states, many inventions of Mesopotamia would not have been possible.
The Hanging Gardens of Babylon
“The Hanging Gardens of Babylon were built by King Nebuchadnezzar so that the queen, his wife, would have a lovely, private, terraced garden to enjoy.
The gardens were rumored to be about 400 feet wide, 400 feet long, and over 80 feet high. Some historians believe the gardens were built in a series of platforms that all together were 320 feet high. There were paths and steps and fountains and gorgeous flowers, all build to make a homesick queen feel welcomed and loved.
It was supposedly built around 600 BCE, along the bank of the Euphrates River (south of the modern day city of Baghdad, Iraq.)
No one knows if the gardens actually existed, or if they did, if they existed in Babylon, but the legend is a lovely one.”