I really don’t know what I can post at this moment since finals are around the corner so here’s my Social 9 essay. Hope you enjoy.
Many civilizations have come and gone. They have left many types of evidence and innovations that we have continued to use today. One civilization that stood out is Mesopotamia which was actually the first ever civilization. It was a civilization that lasted from 3100 B.C and lasted till about 539 B.C. It was located between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. They were greatly noted for their developments of the base of 60 mathematics, from which they stem the modern units for measuring time and the 360 degrees of a circle. Also Science as well including astronomy, chemistry, and medicine. They were the ones that introduced and gave us what we call today as farming. Along with all these they gave us something that manages all of society and without this, there would be absolute chaos. Laws, 282 of them, sent upon everyone to obey and live by or consequences would take place.
As we all know now, there are five characteristics needed for a civilization to work. The first one is advanced cities. Mesopotamia started from the beginning of written history around 3100 B.C and lasted till the fall of Babylon in 539 B.C. In between this time period, they created many things such as writing, the wheel, mathematics, plow, calendar, medicine, etc. This was when they realized there’s more to life than just walking around looking for food to eat and just trying to stay alive. After a while of this, they started to realize that religion plays a fact too and that there are many gods for everything and now they have a means to live for something. Many small establishments were taking place inside the cities since they had just started to realize how much the wheel could do. Trade was booming and the cities were growing along with their populations. Rural establishments of a civilization more than often remain in a state where they are incapable of taking advantage of their knowledge to develop structures and systems upon which they brought continuous development, growth and expansion to their society. But once trade came along as I already mentioned, is started to root and flourish. For the ancient Mesopotamians, cities were the centers of life. The development of cities could have taken place due to environmental conditions. Lack of rainfall might have been the reason for people to organize themselves in an effort to build canals for the irrigation of farmland. Another reason may have been the need for protection on the open plain, which could have led people to gather together to create walled enclaves. Whatever it was, this was the first time in history that humankind put all of its energies towards addressing the needs of a community as a whole.
Next is specialized workers which is really hard to explain because we all know that they had slaves back then and most of their “dirty” work was done by them. Aside from that, they’re were many jobs that we know of a little before and many after Hammurabi’s time. Kings and Priests were one of the highest jobs someone could do and they were very respected for it. Other jobs for the people between the two rivers would be scribes and tutors which were considered a high class job. Lower class jobs included musicians, builders, merchants, farmers, and traders. In my opinion, farmers would have been one of the higher jobs because that’s what we normally think of when we hear Mesopotamia. They were known to be great farmers and knew how to build the levee system to irrigate their crops and control the flood water which was brilliant. Women farmed and cooked the food while the men hunted for the food. Later when advancements took place, they expanded their jobs to over a dozen different options. For example, they had people have a designated job to write their language, which was cuneiform. But hunting ended after domestication and harvesting was discovered and plows and everything else was slowly coming along.
Complex institutions are more commonly found among developed people groups. To be considered a complex institution, a society must have specialization of labor and a ruling hierarchy wherein the leaders are treated and regarded differently from the common people and that’s exactly how places in Mesopotamia were ruled. They had city states which acted as an independent country with their own laws, military, and culture. There the priests and rulers appealed to the gods for the well-being of the city states. The also had kings but the highest place was at the temple of the ziggurat. That’s were the god/gods lived and that was the highest position. Gods assigned kings and the position was passed down the family generation after the other. Mesopotamia was among the first places where humans gathered to live in large cities. This led to a number of new problems, such as how to provide food to everyone, how to defend against enemies, and how to determine who gives the orders. In small villages, everyone grew crops or fished, everyone fought marauders and the leader was chosen more or less democratically or by heredity. In cities, it proved more effective to have a king who ran a bureaucracy of skilled administrators. The most complex of Mesopotamia’s institutions was probably Hammurabi’s written legal code. This is what changed everything. Many laws were passed and are used today or changed to fit how society works today but all in all, he knew how to put consequences on illegal actions with the eye for an eye idea.
Record keeping was also created by the Mesopotamians. They created writing over five thousand years ago to record and communicate important information so it wouldn’t have to be memorized and forgotten by the time they reached the destination of where they needed to drop the message off at. The earliest writing was based on pictograms. Pictograms were used to communicate basic information about crops and taxes. Over time, the need for writing changed and the signs developed into a script we call cuneiform. Over thousands of years, Mesopotamian scribes recorded daily events, trade, astronomy, and literature on clay tablets. Cuneiform was used by people to write several different languages. The invention of writing was the dawn of the information revolution. This technological advance allowed news and ideas to be carried to distant places without having to rely on a messenger’s memory. Like all inventions, writing emerged because there was a need for it. Eventually, cuneiform script was used to produce some of the greatest literary works in recorded history. Now because of their invention of writing, we are in school today using the same thing from five thousand years ago which is incredible.
Another thing that stands out about the Mesopotamian people is their improved technology. They had developed almost all the techniques that formed the basis of civilized life before the industrial revolution: architecture, transport, metalworking, carpentry, pottery, glass- making, textile manufacture and leather-working as well as many processes associated with farming and food preparation. Other Mesopotamian places in the south received lots of rain and they created levees and canal controls which helped move the flood water where they wanted it to go and help their plants. This could have opened up new jobs along the lines of water management which could also serve as newer technology. Mesopotamians also traded their surplus of food for metals from neighboring places to weld weapons used to fight away foes. They solved problems using organization. To provide water, they dug irrigation ditches that carried river water to their fields and allowed them to produce a surplus of crops. The Sumerians traded their grain, cloth, and crafted tools with the peoples of the mountains and the desert. In exchange, they received raw materials such as stone, wood, and metal which was later used to create weapons. They also revolutionized transportation around 3500 BC by inventing the wheel and were among the first to harness the wind as an energy source by using the sail.
In conclusion, I strongly believe Mesopotamia was a civilization, the first actually, to meet all the requirements we look to as a civilization today. They had an economic structure which put Gods above all. They had common sense and valued some item more than others and used trades as a means to find their way to getting resources that were scarce in their area or could not be reached. They used art and intellect to express themselves and communicate with people through poetry, music, and dance. Political system was based on hierarchy but they still had a way of controlling what’s happening through the kings and priests. Other things that prove they were a civilization are that they had a religious structure and believed in 3000 gods, seven main ones being the Earth God, Sun God, Sky God, Moon Go, Wind Go, Fresh Water God, and the Salt Water God. They also had a written language and they invented cuneiform. Most of all, they had cities that housed more than 5000 people and right then you know, they were growing at tremendous speeds whether it be physically or with their technology. They were on a rise and no one could stop them. Another thing is that they met the eight elements needed to be recognized. They had families, laws, governments, education, religion, geography, art, technology, and an economy. They were a civilization that developed systems and structures to govern themselves and grew from that point and they made changes that affected us and that’s why I think Mesopotamia was indeed a civilization.