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Mesopotamia (The Great Lakes)

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Mesopotamia is a term that refers to the historical area of the river basins of the Euphrates and Tigris rivers. It is known by most historians as the location of the first case of what we now know as civilisation. It was also the site of the rise of writing, mostly in the form of cuneiform tablets, impressions of a stylus on wet clay, a system based on pictograms.

Prehistory

Mesopotamia was first settled by humans as early as 7000 BC, generally in farming communities fed by the rivers that ran through the land. These communities were small and greatly dispersed, and had no writing system. They had little social structure, with most in general working for themselves to feed their respective families. 

No direct religious structure is known, but is believed that early humans in the area worshipped the very rivers that fed them, as well as a possible feminine god of bringing life, with a reed-like form, based on findings in the area.

Birth of Irrigation & the Rise of the City

As the farming settlements grew and began to prosper, the demand for water began to strain the local resources. The seasonal rains of the river valley were soon not enough to sustain food for the expanding population. This was when the people turned to the rivers. At around 4500 BC, these communities began to construct canals and irrigation channels leading away from the rivers. These capilliaries of life had two main consequences on the structure of society in Mesopotamia at the time.

The first impact was the obvious one - such huge resources in water allowed the valley and it's inhabitants to flourish. The population began to rise exponentially, with human influence spreading miles in every direction.

The second impact was the birth of the first known approximation of city life. These canal systems soon grew to be large bodies of fast-flowing water - the huge volumes coming down the Euphrates and Tigris were constantly threatening to flood the canals and drown the land. Therefore at certain choke-points the canals required constant maintenance, and lots of it. Logically, permanent settlements began to arise to keep a vigilant watch of the banks.

The first cities were born.



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