Portal:Mesopotamia

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Introduction

Map showing the extent of Mesopotamia. Shown are Washukanni, Nineveh, Hatra, Assur, Nuzi, Palmyra, Mari, Sippar, Babylon, Kish, Nippur, Isin, Lagash, Uruk, Charax Spasinu and Ur, from north to south.

Mesopotamia is a historical region of Western Asia situated within the Tigris–Euphrates river system, in the northern part of the Fertile Crescent, in modern days roughly corresponding to most of Iraq, Kuwait, the eastern parts of Syria, Southeastern Turkey, and regions along the Turkish–Syrian and Iran–Iraq borders.

The Sumerians and Akkadians (including Assyrians and Babylonians) dominated Mesopotamia from the beginning of written history (c. 3100 BC) to the fall of Babylon in 539 BC, when it was conquered by the Achaemenid Empire. It fell to Alexander the Great in 332 BC, and after his death, it became part of the Greek Seleucid Empire.

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Location of Assyria
Assyria was originally a region on the Upper Tigris river, named for its original capital, the ancient city of Assur. Later, as a nation and empire that came to control all of the Fertile Crescent, Egypt and much of Anatolia, the term "Assyria proper" referred to roughly the northern half of Mesopotamia (the southern half being Babylonia), with Nineveh as its capital.

The Assyrians were warriors, who invented excavation to undermine city walls, battering rams to knock down gates, as well as the concept of a corps of engineers, who bridged rivers with pontoons or provided soldiers with inflatable skins for swimming. The Assyrian kings controlled a large kingdom at three different times in history. These are called the Old (20th – 15th centuries BC), Middle (15th – 10th centuries BC), and Neo-Assyrian (911 – 612 BC) kingdoms, of which the last is the most well known and best documented.

Did you know

...that the Sumerian language, the Kassite language, and the Hattic language are all language isolates, unrelated to any other known language?
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Key topic

King Melishipak presents his daughter to the goddess Nannaya
...Babylonian astronomy refers to the astronomical theories and methods that were developed in ancient Mesopotamia. Babylonian astronomy formed the basis for much of the later astronomical traditions that developed in Greece, India, the Middle East and ultimately of modern Western astronomy.

Astral theology, which gave planetary gods an important role in Mesopotamian mythology and religion, began with the Sumerians (before 2000 BC), and created a place of importance for the study of astronomical phenomena. Texts from the First Babylonian Dynasty (ca. 1700 – 1531 BC (short chronology)), show the earliest use of mathematics to describe the variation in day length over a year, and the Venus tablet of Ammisaduqa is the earliest evidence that planetary phenomena were recognized as periodic.

During the 8th and 7th centuries BC, Babylonian astronomers developed a new empirical approach to astronomy. They began studying philosophy dealing with the ideal nature of the universe and began employing an internal logic within their predictive planetary systems. This was an important contribution to astronomy and the philosophy of science, and some scholars have referred to this new approach as the first scientific revolution.

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