Mesopotamian Travel Guide

Your guide to traveling Mesopotamia!

What is Mesopotamia?

Mesopotamia is modern-day Iraq. Mesopotamia is greek for ¨the land between rivers¨ and was named this because it is between the Euphrates and Tigris River.


Sumer was the first place the cities began to appear in ancient Mesopotamia! Cities began appearing here in 3500 B.C.E. and were very small. They each had a ruler and farmland to provide for their inhabitants. This is why they were called city-states. It would be interesting to see the first place that cities in Mesopotamia began to be built in.
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In around 2300 B.C.E. the Akkadians conquered the land of Sumer. The Akkadians king and general´s name is Sargon. He won territory for his empire and collected money and goods from the people he conquered. Akkadia was the world´s first empire. In Akkadia a lot of things were Sumerian such as their writing, cuneiform, and they also worshiped the same gods and goddesses. Sargon hoped that his empire would last a thousand years but it was difficult to rule such a large territory and it became weaker and weaker and after 200 years the Akkadian Empire fell to invaders from the North. It would be very interesting to see these fallen and still thriving empires.
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A king named Hammurabi was the king of a small city-state called Babylon, which was right smack-dab in the center of Mesopotamia. He then conquered the rest of Mesopotamia and made Babylon the capital of his empire, Babylonia. Hammurabi is most well-known for his code of laws which contained over 292 laws that he had gotten ¨from the gods¨ and were carved into huge stones called ¨steles¨ and were placed in a temple so that citizens would not forget the laws. Although these laws did not treat everyone equally, they are a very important achievement because they were the first code of laws to apply to everyone. It would be very interesting to see these.
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Assyria was a a great warlike empire in Mesopotamia that rose to power in 900 B.C.E. and began training for war so that they could extend their territory. They were feared for their might, weapons, and military strategies. They used horses and iron weapons in battle and developed a new strategy to conquer cities by using battering rams which were long poles that poked holes into the walls of a city. They also developed movable towers so they could get over the walls of a city. Although they were ruthless, religion was very important to the Assyrians, even the kings were obliged to obey the gods. Farming was very important in Assyria so they dug canals to irrigate their land and keep the land fertile. The Assyrian Empire lasted 300 years but could not control their abundance of land which at it's peak stretched from Egypt to the Persian Gulf. They could not defend from neighbors attacking in 612 B.C.E. and the Assyrian Empire was broken forever. It would be very interesting to see the Assyrians vast arsenal and territory.
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After Nineveh fell the Babylonians regained control of Mesopotamia and created an empire called Neo-Babylonia meaning ¨New Babylonia.¨ As one of their best kings, Nebuchadrezzar II ruling from 605 to 562 B.C.E., a total of 33 years, drove the Egyptians out of Syria. He also conquered part of Canaan which is today Israel. Nebuchadrezzar worked hard to make life just like it had been when they were under the rule of Hammurabi, re-building the city's ziggurat. He decorated his palace with beautiful gardens and they became famous as the Hanging Gardens of Babylon. A watering system kept the gardens fresh and green. The Babylonians were very skilled in mathematics and astronomy and created the first sundial which told time using the sun. They are the people who helped develop our 60-minute hours and 7-day weeks. Sadly, the Neo-Babylonian empire only lasted 75 years and in 539 B.C.E. a new conqueror came into Babylon from the east named Cyrus who was the leader of the Persian empire. They came from the land which is today Iran. It would be very interesting to see the Babylonian's lucius gardens and advanced technology.
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