Mesopotamia: “The Cradle of Civilization”.
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Mesopotamia, located in a region that included parts of what is now eastern Syria, southeastern Turkey, and most of Iraq, lay between two rivers, the Tigris and the Euphrates. The name Mesopotamia is a Greek word meaning “between the rivers.” Its oldest known communities date from 7000 BC. Several civilizations flourished in the region. In the 6th century BC it became part of the Persian Empire, the largest empire in the world up to then.
The Tigrisforms the eastern edge of the ancient region of Mesopotamia, a fertile area which contained the ancient city of Babylon. The Tigris flows from Turkey into Iraq, past the Iraqi capital of Baghdâd, and joins the Euphrates to form the Shatt al Arab before flowing into the Persian Gulf.
Sumerians move in from the north to take over Mesopotamia (3300 BCE)
The Amorites establish their capital at Babylon (1900 BCE)
Hammurabi, king of Babylon, united the diverse tribes in Mesopotamia by strategically conquering territory in the region. During his rule (circa 1792 to 1750 BC), he proved to be as able an administrator as a general. The Code of Hammurabi, a set of laws for the conduct of individuals and society that he codified, is one of the first bodies of written law.
The Code of Hammurabi contains no laws having to do with religion. The basis of criminal law is that of equal retaliation, comparable to the Semitic law of “an eye for an eye.” The law offers protection to all classes of Babylonian society; it seeks to protect the weak and the poor, including women, children, and slaves, against injustice at the hands of the rich and powerful.
6. If a man has stolen goods from a temple, or house, he shall be put to death, and he that has received the stolen property from him shall be put to death.
14. If a man has stolen a child, he shall be put to death.
25. If a fire has broken out in a man’s house and one who has come to put it out has coveted the property of the householder and appropriated any of it, the man shall be cast into the self-same fire.
195. If a son has struck his father, his hands shall be cut off.
196. If a man has knocked out the eye of the noble, his eye shall be knocked out.
The Assyrians establish an independent kingdom in northern Mesopotamia with a capital at Ashur (1300 BCE)
Several factors contributed to the Assyrian military success:
- foot soldiers
The Chaldean people of Babylonia and the Medes people of Persia joined forces to conquer the Assyrian people.
Remains of the Hanging Gardens of Babylon
Ziggurat, a temple-tower, the principal form of religious edifice in ancient Mesopotamia. Ziggurats were built from the 4th millennium BC to 600 BC. Constructed of mud brick and often faced with glazed brick, they rose in stepped stages to a small temple or sanctuary at the peak.