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Inventions Of Ancient Mesopotamia History Essay

Mesopotamia is known as the “cradle of civilization” and is the most ancient civilization known to have existed on the planet, about 8,000 years old. It is located in what is now recognized as Iraq and Iran between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. This area of the Middle-East is also considered to be the site of the Garden of Eden. Out this civilization came many inventions that still positively affect our modern world. (Ancient Mesopotamia's Inventions)

In about 10,000 BC, a group of nomadic people lived near Syria and Israel that were known as the Mesopotamians. They spent much of their lives hunting a variety of animals and gathering food from the world around them. Up to this point, they hadn’t had the chance to develop beyond their nomadic way of life. However, people finally began to experiment with growing crops and domesticating animals. (Kreis 2-3) By being able to settle down and live stable lives, the Ancient Mesopotamians were able to begin making tools and inventions that eased their workloads and made their lives more comfortable. (Black 1)

An example of an invention is the seeder plow. The seeder plow was an ingenious machine that took on the job of seeding and plowing concurrently. Before this was created, the indigenous people of that time period had to spend innumerable hours placing seeds into the channels that they had just carved into their land. They believed that the god Enlil fashioned the seeder plow for their benefit. In addition to this, they hypothesized that they could distinguish the seeder plow in the stars. Consequently, they determined that they could gauge the seasons by the stars, and as a result, calculate when to sow their crops. These innovations were key factors in modernizing the agriculture of the region. (Mesopotamia: Science and Inventions 2)

Another milestone in the agricultural accomplishments of ancient Mesopotamia was the making of irrigation canals. At some point people realized the need for a reliable water source for growing plants. The irrigation canals they created enabled them to control water and plant crops farther away from rivers. This expanded the amount of usable land. Irrigation canals also controlled flooding which was a major issue in Mesopotamia due to the nearby Tigris and Euphrates rivers. As a result of the pressing needs caused by drought and flooding, people generated new ideas as to how to irrigate their fields and plants in a controlled manner. (Black 3 and Mays 4)

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Without crops and livestock as a food supply for the populace of the region, there would be widespread starvation. Therefore it was vital that the people of that era learn how to farm and domesticate animals for food and other helpful purposes. With the development of different crops, farming techniques and the domestication of work and food animals, the inhabitants of that area were able to increase their store of food. The outcome of this was that ancient Mesopotamians were able to build more multifarious and substantial settlements. (Kreis 5 and Black 3)

Another area that the populace of early Mesopotamia excelled in was the art of writing. Some of the first manuscripts that were written by the ancient Mesopotamians can be traced to as early as 9,000 BC. They are deemed to be the first society to attain an effective means for written communication. The way that they achieved this literacy was through cuneiform writing. This style of writing consisted of using a wedge on a piece of clay to fashion pictures and symbols. Once the clay hardened, it was much more practical to carry around and use than depending on the memory of the courier. At the peak of its use, cuneiform contained over 1,200 symbols. The ancient Mesopotamians were able to achieve what no other cultures had at that time—the first written vernacular and the beginnings of an educational system. (Black 2)

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After writing was invented, Mesopotamians found it much easier to study and test their new ideas. They started to come up with new arithmetic techniques and laws. First, they were able to come up with the concept and practical use of zero. (“Mesopotamia: Science and Inventions”) Second, they developed two different number systems. The first was the Max Radix system, and the second was the Sexagesimal system which was based on the number 60. This led to the 360 degree circle and to the seven day week which we use in our calendars today. (Black 7)

Because of these advancements in math, the people of ancient Mesopotamia were able to put their knowledge of astronomy to use. First, they were able to use the orientation of constellations to indicate the beginning and end of seasons which was vital for agriculture. Second, they could use the annual rising and setting of particular constellations to make an accurate clock from which they could tell time. This led to the invention of the sun-dial. (Astronomy 4)

The ancient Mesopotamians were also able to make great progress in their area of government. Their government was comprised of both a monarchy and democracy. They were ruled by kings but at the same time they had the right to nominate officials who would serve in the Assembly which was part of the government that was ruled by the common citizens. The Assembly was so important in the governing system that even the king had to request permission from it to do a variety of things. Altogether, their government held an enormous amount of power; it had to listen to the voices of the common man. (“Sumer” 7)

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Another achievement that helped them develop a successful society was the practice of record keeping. They came up with the first system that kept track of all that was going on and what had previously happened. The ancient Mesopotamians used their invention of writing to record their history, records, and epic stories that had previously been orally passed down through the generations. An example of this is the most famous and oldest epic called The Epic of Gilgamesh. This story was skillfully written between 2750 and 2500 B.C. on 12 clay cuneiform tablets that recorded the trials and journeys of the king of Uruk. (“Epic of Gilgamesh” and Cochrane 6) The people who wrote information down became known as scribes and were greatly respected. The fact that they could read and write caused them to be separated into their own special class within society, and they were looked upon as magicians. (Black 2 and Mesopotamia: Sailboats, Wheels, Cuneiform 3) Because stories such as The Epic of Gilgamesh were written down and recorded, future generations were able to look back at their history and learn from the mistakes that their ancestors had made, helping to ensure a better future.

Another important part of their system of government was the regulation and enforcement of laws and safety regulations. They made codes of law to maintain peace within the state. Likewise, they invented a justice system and penitentiaries for law-breakers. In Babylon, an ancient king named Hammurabi instituted a system of laws to govern every aspect of life and every dispute that took place within the populace. This system of laws was so effective that many of our laws today originated from it. (Cochrane 7-8). These laws created a stable society which enabled the people to achieve the building of large cities used for stockpiling food. They were also major centers of politics and specialized jobs. Most of these cities were built along the banks of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers where land was fertile and trade was available. (Cowan 5-7) The largest of these cities was knows as Ur and had an inhabitance of about 24,000 people. (“Sumer” 10)

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Another contribution that the ancient Mesopotamians made to the modern world was in the area of transportation. In approximately 3500 B.C., they started developing new ways to make travel easier and more efficient. One of the ways that they did this was by making better boats and controlling the energy in wind currents through the use of a sail. Boats were greatly needed in Mesopotamia because it was the “land between the rivers”, and much of the inhabitance of that region depended on the rivers and the resources that came from them. (Mesopotamia: Sailboats, Wheels, Cuneiform Writing 1) The original boats were made out of reed and in many instances, needed to be disassembles when coming in contact with land. However, they were able to make boating more practical by adding a sails to the top of them. The sails were able to direct the power of wind currents into energy of motion and make the boat glide through the water. (Black 14) This invention led to trading between countries that were separated by large expanses of water. Also it led to the discovery and colonization of foreign lands such as The Americas. (Black 14)

Another major invention was the discovery of the wheel. In fact, it is considered one the most significant inventions in world history. Not only did it provide an easy way to move objects when it was attached to an axle, but it also led to many other important inventions such as wheeled carts (which facilitated bartering), the horse-drawn chariot, and today, the automobile. (Cowan 11 and Mesopotamia: Sailboats, Wheels, Cuneiform Writing 2) Without this invention, the modern world would be a very different place than what it is today.

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In conclusion, the ancient Mesopotamians created many inventions that significantly influenced the world in which we live today. They invented agricultural techniques such as the domestication of animals and the irrigation of farm lands. Furthermore, they came up with mathematical laws, forms of government, and systems of writing that positively effects our world today. Finally, they invented different means for transportation that changed history forever. The people of ancient Mesopotamia revolutionized the ancient world and caused a “domino effect” that led to the conveniences we now enjoy in our modern world.

Comments: Why were you using text boxes for page numbering? We went over how to make headers with page numbering in class. Note my comments, including the ones on formatting. I had to change numerous things to make this look right. In your Citations page, I had to delete many spaces; it appears that you did not use the “tab” properly. Balance your desire to use higher level vocabulary (a good thing) with sounding too awkward. Some things were just a bit confusing, such as how 60 relates to a 7 day week, and the rising and setting of constellations for them to tell time on a clock.

Overall, this is very informative, well organized, and presented well. I enjoyed reading it, learned from it, and it “drew me in” I hope you enjoyed researching it.

Sources Cited

"Ancient Mesopotamia's Inventions - Middle Eastern History - Helium." Helium - Where Knowledge Rules. Web. 01 Nov. 2010. <http://www.helium.com/knowledge/153435-ancient- Mesopotamias-inventions>.

"Astronomy of Mesopotamia: Sumeria, Babylon, and Assyria." Pegasus Research Consortium. Web. 19 Oct. 2010. <http://www.thelivingmoon.com/43ancients/01documents/Mesopotamian_Astronomy.html>.

Black, Alicia. "Ancient Mesopotamias Inventions - by Alicia Black - Helium." Helium - Where Knowledge Rules. Web. 13 Oct. 2010. <http://www.helium.com/items/970770-ancient-mesopotamias- inventions>.

Cochrane, Theresa. "Ancient Mesopotamias Inventions - by Therese Cochrane - Helium." Helium –Where Knowledge Rules. Web. 26 Oct. 2010. <http://www.helium.com/items/985395-ancient-mesopotamias-inventions>.

Cowan, Paul. "Ancient Mesopotamias Inventions - by Paul Cowan - Helium." Helium - Where Knowledge Rules. Web. 22 Oct. 2010. <http://www.helium.com/items/970416-ancient-mesopotamias-inventions>.

"Epic of Gilgamesh." Academy for Ancient Texts. Ancient Texts Library. Web. 26 Oct. 2010. <http://www.ancienttexts.org/library/mesopotamian/gilgamesh/>.

Kreis, Steven. "Lecture 2: Ancient Western Asia and the Civilization of Mesopotamia." The History Guide -- Main. 26 Feb. 2006. Web. 12 Oct. 2010.

<http://www.historyguide.org/ancient/lecture2b.html>.

Mays, Larry W. "Irrigation Systems, Ancient - Dam, Building, River, Important, Salt, System, Source." Water: Science and Issues. Web. 13 Oct. 2010. <http://www.waterencyclopedia.com/Hy-La/Irrigation-Systems-Ancient.html>.

Mesopotamia: Sailboats, Wheels, Cuneiform Writing." AbleMedia LLC - A Knowledge Company.

AbleMedia, 2005. Web. 12 Oct. 2010. <http://www.ablemedia.com/ctcweb/consortium/vammesopotamia6.html>.

"Mesopotamia: Science & Inventions." The Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago. Web. 13 Oct. 2010. <http://oi.uchicago.edu/OI/MUS/ED/TRC/MESO/science.html>.

"Pythagorean Theorem." Karl-Franzens-Universitaet Graz. Web. 20 Oct. 2010. <http://www.uni-graz.at/exp8www/PhysiCult/pythagorean theorem.htm>.

"Sumer." Ancient Mesopotamia for Kids. Web. 22 Oct. 2010. <http://mesopotamia.mrdonn.org/sumer.html>.

Jacob McComb

Mesopotamia is known as the “cradle of civilization” and is the most ancient civilization known to have existed on the planet, about 8,000 years old. It is located in what is now recognized as Iraq and Iran between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. This area of the middle-east is also considered to be the site of the Garden of Eden. Out this civilization came many inventions that still positively affect our modern world.

In about 10,000 BC, a group of nomadic people lived near the coastal plains of Syria and Israel that were known as the Mesopotamians. They spent much of their lives hunting a variety of animals and gathering food from the world around them. Up to this point, they hadn’t had the chance to develop beyond their nomadic way of life. However, people finally began to experiment with growing crops and domesticating animals. (Kreis 2-3) By being able to settle down and live stable lives, the Ancient Mesopotamians were able to begin making tools and inventions that eased their workloads and made their lives more comfortable. (Black 1)

An example of this is the seeder plow. The seeder plow was an ingenious contraption that took on the task of seeding and plowing concurrently. Before this invention, the indigenous people of that time period had to spend innumerable hours placing seeds into the channels that they had just carved into their land. They understood that the god Enlil fashioned this tool for their benefit. In addition to this, they hypothesized that they could distinguish the seeder plow in the stars. Consequently, they determined that they could gauge the seasons by the stars thus calculate when to sow their crops. These remarkable discoveries were key factors in modernizing the agriculture of the region. (Mesopotamia: Science and Inventions 2)

Another milestone in the agricultural accomplishments of ancient Mesopotamia was the creation of irrigation canals. At some point humans realized the need for reliable water for growing plants. The irrigation canals they created enabled them to control water and plant crops farther away from rivers. This expanded the amount of usable land. Irrigation canals also controlled flooding which was a major issue in Mesopotamia due to the nearby Tigris and Euphrates rivers. As a result of the pressing needs caused by drought and flooding, people generated new ideas as to how to irrigate their fields and plants in a controlled manner. The most popular ways was the use of irrigation canals to transport water to the locations where it was needed and, in some cases, away from where it was not needed. (Black 3 and Mays 4)

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Without crops and livestock as a food supply for the populace of the region, there would be widespread starvation. Therefore it was vital that the people of that epoch learned how to farm and domesticate animals for food and other helpful purposes. With the development of different crops, farming techniques and the domestication of work and food animals, the inhabitants of that area were able to inflate their store of food. The outcome of this was that ancient Mesopotamians were able to build more multifarious and substantial settlements. (Kreis 5 and Black 3)

Another area that the populace of early Mesopotamia excelled in was the art of writing. Some of the first manuscripts that were written by the ancient Mesopotamians can be traced to as early as 9,000 BC. They are deemed to be the first society to attain an effective means for written communication. The way that they achieved this reputation for being a literate community was the use of cuneiform writing. This style of writing consisted of using a wedge on a piece of clay to fashion pictures and symbols. Once the clay hardened, it was much more practical to carry around and use than depending on the recollection of the courier. At the peak of its use, cuneiform contained over 1,200 symbols. The ancient Mesopotamians were able to achieve what no other cultures had at that time--first written vernacular and the beginnings of an educational system. (Black 2)

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Comments: I am interested to see what else you will write about. I’m confident that your final paper will again be outstanding. What will you do for a project?

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