Why the Ancient Culture of Mesopotamia Deserves to Be Called a Civilization

Topics: Mesopotamia, Sumer, Ancient history Pages: 5 (1638 words) Published: February 28, 2013
Why the Ancient Culture of Mesopotamia deserves to be called a Civilization

Between 3000-550BC, the civilization of the culture of Mesopotamia, also known as “The Land Between Two Rivers” was at its peak. Unfortunately, much of Mesopotamia’s contributions to the history of human civilization go unnoticed. The limited history available on this magnificent land shows that a great deal of human civilization begun in Mesopotamia. This is proven by its extensive trade routes, outstanding leaders, and astronomical development in technology that came into being in the ancient Mesopotamia. Undoubtedly, the ancient culture in Mesopotamia was the epitome of civilization. Duker and Spielvogel enumerate a number of aspects that need to considered for a culture to be referred to as civilized (7). They include the existence of written laws, intensive agriculture, division of labor, highly structured communities, market economy, among other variables. Thus, drawing from these elements that dictate civilizations, this essay attempts to explain why the ancient culture of Mesopotamia deserves to be called a civilization. By 3000 BC, the Sumerians, people of unknown origin had expanded the cities in Mesopotamia. During this period, they began to exercise political and economic control over other parts of the vast Mesopotamia. In addition, they formed city states, the most basic units of civilization in Mesopotamia. To start with, it is necessary to consider how Mesopotamia was divided. Mesopotamia was divided into what is now referred to as Sumerian cities. Walls surrounded these cities with towers for defense shooting up high to 35 feet. Uruk, for instance, was a city heavily protected by Sumerians’ remarkable creativity and innovation. The buildings in Mesopotamia were outstanding. Made of sun-dried-bricks and bound together by mud, Sumerians, both peasants put up dwellings that housed their households. Evidently, Mesopotamia has displayed the most artistic and creative architecture made of bricks of all time. Secondly, the economic might of the people of Mesopotamia further proves the level of civilization exhibited by Mesopotamia’s culture. Sumerian cities were predominantly agricultural. However, Mesopotamians practiced other economic aspects such as commerce and industry. For instance, they produced metalwork, pottery, and woolen textiles. In a display of their established trade market economy, Mesopotamians exchanged their agricultural products such as dried fish, barley, and wheat for imports that included copper, timber, and tin. Trade in Mesopotamia was made even easier with the introduction of carts with wheels. Duker and Spielvogel postulate that close to 90% of the entire Mesopotamian population practiced agriculture (8). With the increase in the numbers of Sumerian cities, Mesopotamia saw the need for the creation of more elaborate leadership structures. Thus in 2340 BC, the city states were abolished and more expansive and inclusive concept of leadership came into force, the empire. Mesopotamia did not only thrive on extensive and highly structured trade routes it enjoyed the leadership of a flourishing system of governance. Despite having fallen almost the time when city states were abolished ushering in the concept of an empire, Mesopotamia had accomplished leaders. Sargon I, for instance, was able to bring together the vast land of civilized people together and foster unity, which further gave his subjects the peace necessary for development. Along with the highly structured and remarkably efficient government systems was the rule of law that existed in Mesopotamia. The Code of Hammurabi, for instance, was a collection of laws that provided a platform for exercising justice in Mesopotamia. Just as most laws in this day and age are strict, Duker and Spielvogel give an insight into how these laws were enforced (9). The Hammurabi Code is proof of a civilized ancient society with strict rules...
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