The Ancient History of Iraq

History is his story, the story of mankind and Its Interaction with the world, environment and life. Ancient history Is the beginning of recorded events In the history of the world from the first civilizations to the collapse of the Western Roman Empire In 476 A. D. Ancient history discusses great clvlllzatlons of the world that have had a profound effect on the world and society to this day such as the Mesopotamians, Egyptians, the Greek Empire, and the Roman Empire.

Modern Day Iraq, a Middle Eastern country, is now located in the region formerly known as Mesopotamia. My paper will give an insightful view into the region of Mesopotamia and the lives of those who lived there. Their environment culture, law and government, religions, wars, and advances in life will all be discussed as they all relate to the world today. Mesopotamia is not a country but instead a region. Mesopotamia meaning “between two rivers” has been known to many as the cradle of civilization, life, and human activities.

Robert Guisepi defined Mesopotamia as the land between the Euphrates and Tigris rivers, north of Baghdad. Over time people have expanded the borders of Mesopotamia northeast to the Zagros Mountains, and southwest to the edge of the Arabian Plateau, stretching from the Persian Gulf to the Ann-Taurus Mountains in the northeast. Northern Mesopotamia is composed mostly of hills and plants, with lands that were quite fertile due to there be seasonal rains and the rivers flowing from the mountains. This allowed water to past the land, giving the land a chance to be fertile and moist, without the water staying in excess.

Southern Mesopotamia was a marshy area, with wide and flat barren plain. When there was ainfall or the rivers overflowed, due to the land being flat, there was nowhere for the water to travel therefore the land become very wet and damp leaving it unable to be farmed. That was until systems of irrigation were constructed. Mesopotamians made weirs and dames that created reservoirs and supplied canals that carried water long distances across the flat countryside. With them now being able to farm, the Mesopotamians grew Into a civilization.

From this new irrigation system farming became a huge part of daily life in Mesopotamia. From information found of ThinkQuest. org, one of the most common rown crops was Flax, which was one of the most multipurpose crops. Flax had multiple uses in Mesopotamia as it was used in clothing, food, and medicine. Flax was a vital contribution to the agriculture and commerce due to its many purposes. Some other crops that were grown due to the fertile lands of Mesopotamia were leeks, onions, wheat, and barley. They were all found in excess so they were consumed at very high rates by the people of the area.

These crops came to be not only from the irrigation of water but also the Invention of the seeder plow. Herbs and spices were also available as well as fruits such as figs and grapes. Wine was one of the products of grapes which are still one of Its biggest uses today. The native olive tree of the Mesopotamian area was highly valued for Its 011. This oil was made for medicines, fuel for lamps and most of all for cooking. Mesopotamia did not have a what they had. The Sumerians, the creators of the first magnificent temples and palaces, founders of the first city/states and the inventors of writing.

The Sumerians traveled to the land in between the rivers where the settled and frontier the first civilization. Sumerian civilization is expected to have begun around 5000 B. C. E. The Sumerians quickly grew to become a large civilization with many city-states in southern Mesopotamia. Many historians have tried to decipher the mystery behind what language did the Mesopotamians speak, but it has been concluded that Sumerian was the primary language of the Mesopotamians. There are known to have been other languages spoken at the time, such as the Sematic and Hurrian dialects.

The furthest recorded language known to man is that of the Sumerian language as I read in “The Looting of the Iraq Museum, Baghdad: The Lost Legacy of Mesopotamia”. This comes from the oldest discovered system of writing known as Cuneiform wedged shape), being found on tablets from Mesopotamia. Cuneiform was created and used to keep records of goods, services, and official matters. Cuneiform, being the first system of writing known to man has been the predecessor to every modern- day alphabet. This is one of the reasons why Mesopotamia is regarded to as the cradle of all civilization.

There were multiple classes in Ancient Sumer, the upper class, middle class and lower class. The upper class consisted of the government officials, priests, and soldiers, which I gathered from Community Consolidated School District. The King ould be a government official and the most powerful person in the empire. Family of the king and other nobility would also be a part of the upper class. The Priest was also a very prominent fgure as he led the religious sector of the community. Scribe were also a notable position in society, as they usually came from royalty, could read and write, and had considerable power.

The middle class were usually workers, merchants and artisans, farmers, scribes, and teachers. Farmers were hard workers who were paid enough to live daily, as they were responsible for producing food from the others. The farmers and others in the middle classes had free rights as long they did not break the law. The lower class was basically slaves, who did not have any rights other than what their owner permitted them to have. Slaves were used by the nobility, elders, and even the middle class. Like many civilizations to follow, men were the dominating force in society.

Men, who were not slave, worked daily to earn wages. Men were the head of the households, so therefore their responsible for providing for the family. Fathers were responsible for the arrangement of their daughter’s marriages, as he chose her husband for her. Daughters were considered he property of their father and so were their mothers. Women at this time did not have the same rights and privileges as men but did have some, Editor Bella Vivante say.. Women were allowed to go freely to the local markets, trade, handle legal matters for their husbands and start businesses, which was quite the privilege for women.

Women did not do much work but when they did, they only earned half of what the men doing the same Job did. Some women, who were members of the royal family and had given their lives over to the temples, could learn how to read and write and some were allowed to have governmental positions. According to SMSPromotions, Mesopotamians had various customs and social traditions to emerge were very important in people’s lives, which usually celebrated a rite of passage such as birth and marriage. These banquets or ceremonies usually included some form of music, as musical instruments have been found, but the type of music is unknown.

There was also food which depended upon the social status of the family, nobility enjoyed large feast while the middle class usually only had enough to feed everyone once. Games and sports were also common at this time as a source of entertainment. Board games usually made out of stone or clay has been uncovered during the excavation of Mesopotamia. One particular game, the game of 20 squares, involved a race using pieces that moved according to the roll of a dice, which could been seen as a much unsophisticated of modern-day board game Monopoly.

In sports, Mesopotamians enjoyed the spectacle of boxing and wrestling. In the Epic of Gilgamesh, there was a reference to Gilgamesh and Enkidu engaging in a wrestling match. Another custom would be the burying of the dead and this often times varied. One method was placing the body in ceramic Jar then covering the rest of the body ith more ceramic, while other means such as rolling the body in carpets or mats. With Cuneiform being a prominent factor of Mesopotamian culture, writing was highly regarded.

They believed strongly in recording data, so that was the primary subject taught in school. Author Joan Oates tells that in the education system during these times, only allowed boys to go to school and learn how to write in cuneiform. Teachers were very strict as they wanted to make sure that their student’s writings were correct and perfect. Any mistakes made resulted in harsh punishment, usually a whipping. But this did not deter students from wanting to attend school, as men who could read and write could easily find good Jobs in the community.

These young men were being trained to become scribes, and becoming a scribe was a possible pathway to being a priest- one of the most powerful professions in Mesopotamia as the priest worked in close quarters with the king. Young boys who were not fortunate enough to afford to go to school learned the trade of their father, so they could continue his work once they became the head of their household. Young girls were not allowed to attend school to learn how to read or write. Girls however, learned their role in the family from their mothers.

They were taught how to cook, grind grain, make beverages, and spin and weave cloth for clothing. The many cultures of Mesopotamia had a polytheistic system of religion, many that they believed in many gods and goddess instead of Just of Just one. Citizens were deeply religious as they believed that the gods controlled all aspects of their life. According to SMSPromotions, the citizens worshipped the gods heavily in fear that if they made the gods upset they would be harshly punished by the gods, so they went to great lengths to please these gods.

In pleasing these gods, large structures were created known as ziggurats that served as temples for worship. People came to these temples to pray and also to give their offerings to please the deities or regain their favor. Each city had its own patron deity some of which dealt with specialized occupations. One example would be the god, Anu who was considered to be the father of the gods and supreme ruler much like the Greek’s Zeus and her Roman’s Jupiter. Since the Mesopotamians were so deep in their religious beliefs, the Priest was the highest fgure in the religious community. The was also a healer.

The governmental system of Mesopotamia was directly influenced by their religion as they followed a theocratic system of government. Though the government was based on theocracy, there still governmental officials who made laws and executed them. As civilization grew, a certain kingship began. Based on the information from the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago, kingship is when there is a king, who is thought to be connected with the gods on a higher level, therefore is the ultimate human ruler. These kings ruled their communities with the assistance of the priest, scribes, and other government fficials.

Kings were supposed to command the army, administer trade, and settle legal disputes. There were laws put in place at the time but they weren’t very organized, citizens knew of them and the consequences for breaking them. This was until King Hammurabi, king of Babylonia, created the Stele of Hammurabi, also known as the Code of Hammurabi. This large stele depicted King Hammurabi and the sun god Shamash, connecting him with divinity. This gave the impression that Kings laws had come directly from the gods. Below are the actual law codes, which there were 282 laws described.

Hammurabi was the first king to actually provide a uniform code of law for his citizens to abide by. Along with being the first civilization to create a uniform body of law, they also came up with many other inventions and idea, which is one of their biggest successes. The wheel, one of the world’s greatest tools and inventions was created by the Mesopotamians. The wheel was initially used to move heavy objects easily, and that is still one of its main functions to this day. The Mesopotamians, according to the University of Chicago, were the first one to harness wind power by using it to move boats with sails.

They were the first to recognize to concept of zero and give a number a place value. The arch and column were too developed by the Mesopotamians at the time. These inventions and people continuation of using them has proven that the Mesopotamian people were ground breaking inventors and intellects. In doing research, I have learned the Mesopotamia is truly the originator of civilization and culture as we know it. Mesopotamia’s influence can be seen in all aspects of modern day society. I feel as though Mesopotamia should be highly praised and recognized for its contributions to our daily lives.

They have made monumental strides in science, mathematics, and technology, all of which are still being expounded upon to this day. Mesopotamia had come to be known as Iraq through a series of conquests and wars, but the foundation for Iraq is deeply rooted in the customs of Mesopotamia. Many aspects of Mesopotamian life can still be seen in Iraq, from the education system to the religion of the country, Mesopotamia still has had a profound effect on the country. Mesopotamia has not only touched the lives of those in Iraq but the lives of every human on this planet, as it truly is the cradle of civilization.

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