Where was Mesopotamia, and why is it important?
Mesopotamia is known as one of the “cradles” of human civilization. This means that Mesopotamia is home to some of the most ancient cities in the world, and historians believe that this is where some of the first cities in the world were built. Mesopotamia is located in West Asia, in the region of the world known today as the Middle East.
Timeline of Mesopotamia
The first recorded event in Mesopotamia occurred in the year 5000 BC, when the Sumer built the first towns and cities. Along with Ancient Egypt, Sumer is one of the world’s earliest civilizations. The people who lived in Sumer were known as the Sumerians.
In 4000 BC, the Sumerians expanded their control of the land, and established powerful city-states in Mesopotamia. The Mesopotamians built large ziggurats at the center of their cities, as temples to their gods. Ziggurats were special structures built by the Mesopotamians.
They looked sort of like pyramids – they had a square base, and anywhere between 2 to 7 levels or steps. Each level would be smaller than the one before, so the base was the widest part, just like the pyramids of Ancient Egypt. The Ziggurats were the greatest architectural accomplishment of the Sumer!
By 3500 BC, most of lower Mesopotamia had been overtaken by these Sumerian city-states. Some examples of these states were Ur, Nippur, and Lagash.
In 3300 BC, historians believe that the Sumerians invented the world’s first kind of writing. They used pictures for words and carved them on clay tablets – this is very similar to the hieroglyphic system of Ancient Egypt, which also used pictures instead of words.
In 3200 BC, the Sumerians invented the wheel.
In 3000 BC, the Sumerians invented mathematics. This would go on to be incredibly important to the development of civilization all across the world.
In 2700 BC, King Gilgamesh comes to power and rules the city-state of Ur.
In 2400 BC, the Sumerian language is replaced as Mesopotamia’s primary language by the Akkadian language.
In 2330 BC, Sargon I of the Akkadians takes over most of Mesopotamia, and creates the world’s first empire, the Akkadian Empire.
In 2100 BC, after the Akkadian Empire crumbled, the Sumerians once again come to power, and rebuild the destroyed city of Ur.
In 1900 BC, a group known as the Assyrians rise to power in northern Mesopotamia.
In 1792 BC, a man named Hammurabi becomes king of Babylon, a neighboring kingdom of Mesopotamia. Under his rule, the Code of Hammurabi is established, the world’s oldest code of law. Babylon soon takes over most of Mesopotamia.
In the year 1781 BC, the First Assyrian Empire is taken over by the Babylonians.
Over the next 500 years, an intense power struggle ensured between the Assyrians and Babylonians. Eventually, in 1225 BC, the Assyrians capture Babylon and retake control of Mesopotamia.
In 1115 BC, the Second Assyrian Empire reaches its peak under King Tiglath-Piliser I.
400 years later, in 709 BC, the Second Assyrian Empire takes control of the city of Babylon. Babylon, therefore, becomes part of the Assyrian Empire.
In 668 BC, Ashurbanipal becomes the final King of Assyria. He builds a great library in the city of Nineveh, the new Assyrian capital.
In 626 BC, Ashurbanipal dies, and the Second Assyrian Empire begins to get weaker.
In 616 BC, the Babylonian ruler Nabopolassar takes control of Babylon back from the Assyrians. He crowns himself king, and the new Babylonian empire begins.
In 550 BC, the Persian ruler Cyrus the Great rises to power, and the Persian Empire begins.
Eleven years later, in 539 BC, Cyrus the Great takes over the city of Babylon and the Babylonian Empire as a whole.
The end of the Mesopotamian empire came in 333 BC, when conqueror Alexander the Great invaded Mesopotamia and conquered the Persian Empire. Under his rule, the Macedonian Empire thrived.
Facts about the Timeline of Ancient Mesopotamia:
- Mesopotamia is one of the cradles of human civilization, meaning that some of the world’s oldest recorded artifacts were found here.
- Mesopotamia was in West Asia.
- The timeline of Ancient Mesopotamia began in 5000 BC, with the establishment of the Mesopotamian cities.
- These cities became city-states in the year 4000 BC.
- The Sumerians are responsible for inventing some of the world’s most important tools and systems of thought; for example, they invented the world’s first writing, the first mathematical system, and the wheel.
- Some of the main Mesopotamian empires were the Sumerian Empires, the Assyrian Empires, and the Babylonian Empires.
- Some of Mesopotamia’s most famous rulers were King Gilgamesh, King Hammurabi, and Cyrus the Great.
The end of the Mesopotamian Empire came in 333 BC, when Alexander the Great established the Macedonian Empire in its place.
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