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THE CRADLE OF CIVILIZATIONS:MESOPOTAMIA

Mesopotamia is a region of southwest Asia in the Tigris and Euphrates river system that benefitted from the area’s climate and geography to host the beginnings of human civilization. Its history is marked by many important inventions that changed the world, including the concept of time, math, the wheel, sailboats, maps and writing. Mesopotamia is also defined by a changing succession of ruling bodies from different areas and cities that seized control over a period of thousands of years.


 

Where Is Mesopotamia?

Mesopotamia is located in the region now known as the Middle East, which includes parts of southwest Asia and lands around the eastern Mediterranean Sea. It is part of the Fertile Crescent, an area also known as “Cradle of Civilization” for the number of innovations that arose from the early societies in this region, which are among some of the earliest known human civilizations on earth.

The word “mesopotamia” is formed from the ancient words “meso,” meaning between or in the middle of, and “potamos,” meaning river. Situated in the fertile valleys between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, the region is now home to modern-day Iraq, Kuwait, Turkey and Syria.


  • Mesopotamian Civilization
  • Humans first settled in Mesopotamia in the Paleolithic era. By 14,000 B.C., people in the region lived in small settlements with circular houses.
  • Five thousand years later, these houses formed farming communities following the domestication of animals and the development of agriculture, most notably irrigation techniques that took advantage of the proximity of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers.
  • Agricultural progress was the work of the dominant Ubaid culture, which had absorbed the Halaf culture before it.


 Ancient Mesopotamia

These scattered agrarian communities started in the northern part of the ancient Mesopotamian region and spread south, continuing to grow for several thousand years until forming what modern humans would recognize as cities, which were considered the work of the Sumer people.

Uruk was the first of these cities, dating back to around 3200 B.C. It was a mud brick metropolis built on the riches brought from trade and conquest and featured public art, gigantic columns and temples. At its peak, it had a population of some 50,000 citizens.

Sumerians are also responsible for the earliest form of written language, cuneiform, with which they kept detailed clerical records.


 

Sumerian

Sumerian is an "agglutinating" language with no known relatives. It was spoken in South Iraq until it died out, probably around 2000 BC, giving way to Babylonianian; but it survived as a scholarly and liturgical language, much like mediaeval Latin, until the very end of cuneiform in the late 1st millennium BC.

 

In the absence of related languages, Sumerian has had to be learned through the filter of Babylonian and Assyrian.  There are still many disagreements about what words mean, and how the verb behaves, but our knowledge of it is growing by the year.  There is  still no full dictionary of Sumerian, though the Sumerian-French lexicon recently posted online by the Swiss scholar Pascal Attinger is very useful.

 

There is no learner's grammar of Sumerian that can straightforwardly be recommended.  Non-specialists may find the excellent grammar of third-millennium BC Sumerian by the Dutch scholar Bram Jagersma heavy-going.  The open-access publication Introduction to the Grammar of Sumerian by Gábor Zólyomi is more accessible.

 

(Akkadian) Babylonian and Assyrian

Assyrian and Babylonian are members of the Semitic language family, like Arabic and Hebrew.  Because Babylonian and Assyrian are so similar – at least in writing – they are often regarded as varieties of a single language, today known as Akkadian.  How far they were mutually intelligible in ancient times is uncertain.

 

During the 2nd millennium BC, Babylonian was adopted all over the Near East as the language of scholarship, administration, commerce and diplomacy. Later in the 1st millennium BC it was gradually replaced by Aramaic, which is still spoken in some parts of the Middle East today.



Reference list:

national geographic video

The human origin project picture

University of cambridge








M. Sunullah Keskin

M. Sunullah Keskin

Multidisipliner ve interdisipliner yaklaşımla bilimsel kavramları ve problemleri ele almayı seviyorum.

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