Ancient Mesopotamia

Ancient Mesopotamia represents several major historical markers in human history. This time period, about 3500 BCE to 539 BCE, is most famous for its legacies: mass agriculture, first written language, and the first documented system of laws and justice. Below you will find several artifacts that show what life was like for these ancient peoples as well as some of their greatest contributions to human social evolution.

Archaeology has played a key role in discovering ancient Mesopotamian history and culture. Check out this interactive map showing various archaeological sites in the region and different artifacts found at each of the sites.

The first known written language, Cuneiform, was developed in ancient Mesopotamia. Artifacts such as tablets and cylinder seals have allowed historians to date the emergence of Cuneiform writing.

Cuneiform tablet. Image credit: link
Cylinder of Nabonidus. Image credit: link

One of the most famous legacies of ancient Mesopotamian civilization is Hammurabi’s Code. This code, which included the laws of land and the rights of its citizens were inscribed on a massive stone slab, many of which are similar to laws currently used in the US justice system.

Hammurabi’s Code. Photo credit: link

For a written overview of Hammurabi’s code and a description of some of its ancient laws, click here.

While the peoples of ancient Mesopotamia might not have had the technology available to us today, their civilizations and societies were complex and full of rich culture. This time period is significant for its major contributions to human social progress, and is the foundation for all modern human societies.

Featured image credit: Adobe Spark

4 Replies to “Ancient Mesopotamia”

  1. I’ve gotta say, great job with the featured image!

    This collection has an interesting flow. Peter didn’t mention that we pay attention to order of artifacts, but I can see here that you must’ve made the choice to include the video 1st. I personally have sat through relatively boring lessons about Mesopotamia , yet I found some new interest in this civilization. In particular I found myself googling where these artifacts are located, because seeing this ancient carved writing in person would be incredibly interesting. You also gave great context between the artifacts. You gave just enough info the your audience, yet allowed the artifacts to speak for themselves.

    One thing to think about:

    It’s possible that some viewing this might not understand some vocab. Specifically: BCE and AD, and the syntax of what, “3500 BCE to 539 BCE” means.

  2. I like how straightforward this post is. There are plenty of artifacts to explore here. Well curated.

    One small thing. Did you intend to have the images aligned to the left or were you unaware that there are other options? If you click on the image and go into edit mode there is an option to change the alignment to either left, right, or center. Aesthetically speaking, the only thing that definitely doesn’t look right to me is when there are multiple different alignments in the same post, so you are in the clear!

  3. Here’s an interesting piece just out in the New Yorker “The Case Against Civilization” – Did our hunter-gatherer ancestors have it better?

    “In the Neolithic period, Mesopotamia was a delta wetland, where the sea came many miles inland from its current shore.
    This was a generous landscape for humans, offering fish and the animals that preyed on them, fertile soil left behind by regular flooding, migratory birds, and migratory prey travelling near river routes. The first settled communities were established here because the land offered such a diverse web of food sources. If one year a food source failed, another would still be present. The archeology shows, then, that the “Neolithic package” of domestication and agriculture did not lead to settled communities, the ancestors of our modern towns and cities and states. Those communities had been around for thousands of years, living in the bountiful conditions of the wetlands, before humanity committed to intensive agriculture. Reliance on a single, densely planted cereal crop was much riskier, and it’s no wonder people took a few millennia to make the change.”

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