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Overview of Mesopotamia Study Guide

Ancient Mesopotamia
Class Notes
Farming: Why it was
1. The first civilizations arose in the
Fertile Crescent between two rivers:
Euphrates and Tigris Rivers
1. The rivers provided rich soil (silt). After
a flood, the silt left behind created rich
Rich soil
Rich Silt
Rich Silt from a River System
Farming: Why it was
3. Crops were planted away from the
rivers to protect plants from river floods.
4. However this required farmers to use
irrigation to transport water from the rivers
to their crops.
Farming: Why it was
4. Farmers planted their crops in rows to
make irrigating their crops easier.
5. These rows were dug using a plow.
They are called furrows. Furrows helped
make irrigation more successful.
Farming: Why it was
• Two innovations that helped make
farming so successful were:
–- the plow
–- irrigation
Planting Crops
Farming: Why it was
6. Rivers + fertile soil + irrigation + plow
A Surplus of Food
Farming: Why it was
Surplus of Food
Job Specialization
Job Specialization
• Not everyone needed to farm.
• The first SOCIAL ORDER was formed.
– -Kings and Priest held the most power
– -Scribes also held power because they
were educated and could write
– -Merchants, Traders, and Skilled Workers
and Farmers
– -Slaves
Social Order of Mesopotamia
Importance of Trade
• Two innovations that allowed for trade
– The wheel
– -The sail
Each of these innovations made trading with
other civilizations easier.
Advantages to Trade
• Brought great wealth to the
Mesopotamian area
• Introduced different cultures and ideas
• Brought new ways to do things
• Supplied needed resources
• A sail + a wheel = larger region of trade!
Writing - Cuneiform
• Cuneiform was another innovation.
• Important for a couple of reasons:
Records of trade transactions were kept
Oral traditions were written down
Written laws to create a fair community
• Religion was polytheistic – meaning the
belief in many gods
• Priest could speak directly to the gods
• Kings were thought to have been
chosen by the gods
• Gods lived in Ziggurats
Religion and the People
• People believed gods had feelings
• People worshipped gods so that the
gods would treat the people well
• People believed gods ruled all aspects
of their lives
• People didn’t want to upset the gods
• People believed the King was chosen
by the gods.