Overview map of ancient Mesopotamia

Mesopotamia (Greek: Μεσοποταμία, translated from Old Persian Miyanrudan "the Land between the Rivers"; Aramaic name being Beth-Nahrain "House of Two Rivers"), also commonly known as the Fertile Crescent, most commonly refers to the geographical region between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers, the location of modern-day Iraq. The term also usually includes the surrounding lowland territories bounded by the Arabian Desert to the west and south, the Persian Gulf to the southeast, the Zagros Mountains to the east and the Caucasus mountains to the north.

Mesopotamia was home to some of the world's earliest large-scale civilizations, with some empires reaching into the Levant and Persia. Writings from Mesopotamia are among the earliest known in the world, some dating to before the hierogylphic writing of the Egyptians.


Mesopotamia was home to some of the oldest major ancient civilizations, including the Sumerians, Akkadians, Babylonians and Assyrians.

Yet Mesopotamia was also settled, and conquered, by numerous ancient civilizations.

  • The Mitanni were an eastern Indo-European people (belonging to the linguistic "satem" group) who settled in northern Mesopotamia circa 1600 BC South-East of Turkey and by circa 1450 BC established a medium-size empire east, north and west, and temporarily made tributary vassals out of kings in the west, even as far as Kafti (minoic Crete) and making them a major threat for the Pharaoh.
  • By 1300 BCE they had been reduced to their homeland and the status of vassal of the Hatti = the Hittites, a western Indo-European people (belonging to the linguistic "kentum" group) who dominated most of Asia Minor from their capital of Hattusa (modern Turkey) and threatened Egypt even more.
  • Meanwhile the Kassites, from another Indo-European branch, established a strong realm, Sangar, in southern Mesopotamia, with Babel as its capital, not touched by Mitanni or Hittites. But the Elamites threatened or invaded them.
  • Chaldaean New Babylonia circa 600 BCE.
  • The region ceased to be a major power house since its inclusion in the Persian Empire of the Achaemenids, apparently as two satrapies, Babylonia in the south and Athura (from Assyria) in the north.

Early civilizationsEdit

593px-Sumerian MS2272 2400BC

Sumerian list of gods in cuneiform script, ca. 24th century BC

These civilizations arose from earlier settlements and cultures which were among the first to make use of agriculture.

Early cities in this region include:

See alsoEdit

Further readingEdit

External LinksEdit

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