About 6000 years ago, in the area between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers (today’s Iraq, Kuwait and parts of Syria, Turkey and Iran) which was known as Mesopotamia (land between two rivers), the first civilization was born.
Map of ancient Mesopotamia
About 3300 BC the non-Semitic people called Sumerians settled in an area called Plain of Shinar. These people are considered as the first people who formed the earliest ancient civilization of Mesopotamia. They divided time into minutes and seconds; they invented writing system, the wheel and the plow; they built houses and temples and many other things that we still use today.
Except the Sumerians, there were also the Akkadians, the Assyrians and the Babylonians.
Way of life
As the Sumerians were building larger cities, things changed. There were all sorts of jobs and activities. While many people still worked as farmers in the country, in the city the people worked different jobs such as priest, scribe, merchant, craftsman, soldier, civil servant, laborer etc.
When the government was formed, for the first time people were divided into classes. At the top were the king and his family, but sometimes the priest was also a king. The upper class included the wealthy; the middle class included the craftsmen, merchants and civil servants; in the lower class were the laborers and farmers. At the bottom were the slaves who were owned by the king or the upper class.
The Mesopotamian people wore clothes made of sheepskin or wool. Both men and women wore skirts of different length. They also enjoyed wearing jewelry, especially rings, and they used make up.
Clothing in Mesopotamia
Ancient Mesopotamian jewelry
Art and architecture
For building their houses, the Mesopotamians used mud bricks, mud plaster and wooden doors. Most houses had a square center room with other rooms attached to it. The roofs of their houses were flat and people would often sleep on the roofs during the hot summers.
House in Mesopotamia
The highlights of their architecture were the ziggurats. They were built to honor the main god of the city. The ziggurats looked like step pyramids and they would have up to 7 levels. The largest ziggurat is thought to be at the city of Babylon.
Mesopotamian religion was polytheistic. They believed in the existence in many gods and goddesses. Each city had its own god. In the ziggurats that were built in the center of the cities, the priests would make scarifies to honor the gods. These were some of the most important Sumerian, Babylonian and Assyrian gods:
- Anu (also called An) – god of the heavens and king of the gods. He was also god of the city of Uruk.
- Enlil – god of air, wind and storm. He was the god of Nippur.
- Enki – god of Eridu. He was the god of wisdom, intelligence and magic.
- Inanna – goddess of love and war. Her primary city was Uruk.
- Maduk – god of Babylon
- Nergal – god of the underworld. His city was Kuthu
- Tiamat – goddess of the water
- Ashur – god of the Assyrians. He was also the god of war.
- Ishtra – Assyrian goddess of love and war
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