Believed to be one of the places where the early civilization was born, Mesopotamia geography unveils a glorious era in the development of mankind. It is a notable region in southwestern Asia in the vicinity of the Tigris–Euphrates river system, which is probably the reason why the Greeks considered it a nation between rivers.
Known as the home to the Sumerians, the Assyrians, and the Babylonians who contributed to the advancement of human knowledge in mathematics and science, you can tell that the Mesopotamians have an unparalleled record in history that has changed the world.
You may also be aware that if not for their ingenuity, we would not be enjoying impressive innovations in science and technology nowadays.
Geography of Mesopotamia in Retrospect
In the past, nations were built based on several geographic factors to ensure the safety of the people. Historians have considered climate and landscape as the major elements necessary to a prospective nation.
In establishing their refuge, ancient people preferred a mountainous landscape to protect them from the aggression of their neighboring countries. The mountains were also their sources of agricultural produce. You can guess that they also favored the presence of rivers, which served as their fastest avenue for trading their goods and means of transport.
It is paramount to say that extensive cities in the past and even in our modern times are adjacent to bodies of water for security, transportation, and economic purposes. Furthermore, ancient people knew that they had to develop a city in a place where it could sustain itself and the people dwelling in it.
Ancient Mesopotamia geography leads us to the innermost part of a civilization with a vast influence, extending across the Middle East, the deserts of Egypt, and the waters of the Mediterranean.
Strategically located between the Euphrates and Tigris Rivers, Mesopotamia is in the northeast of the Zagros Mountains adjacent to the edges of the Arabian Desert and extending toward the Persian Gulf.
Located south of Al-Ramadi on the Euphrates River, with a flat alluvial deposit, the Mesopotamia landscape stretches approximately 300 miles long and 150 miles wide. You must not forget that the rivers change their course depending on the unpredictable overflowing of the water that also influences the land along their banks.
With considerable marshes and swamps along the river stretch, you can see the unique contour of the land that served as a shelter for the maltreated and impoverished people at that time.
To describe the geography of Mesopotamia, you must consider the semiarid climate in the deserted regions in the north and the irregular supply of water in the river due to the high temperature of the region and the considerably limited amount of rainfall throughout the year.
This climatic condition brought challenges to the early Mesopotamians, but the contributions of nomadic settlers opened the door toward cattle grazing and farming.
You can also consider the changes when the irrigation system was developed sometime in 6000 BC, and agriculture started to give rise to the birth of civilization. The annual inundation of the rivers also contributed to the change in soil quality, making it fertile that led to agricultural and economic abundance, particularly in the southern region.
You can describe the geographic features of Mesopotamia with vast deserts in the north and western areas and 5,800 square miles of marshes along the rivers until the southern region.
With the construction of irrigation canals and dams, fields were cultivated, paving the way for the improvement of Mesopotamia physical features. These changes led to the rapid development of cities and brought forth advancement in agriculture, science, government, and technology, which later made Mesopotamia a prosperous region called the Fertile Crescent.
History reveals that ancient Mesopotamia looked like an island as it was located between the Euphrates and Tigris Rivers. The entire region was divided into two crucial kingdoms: Upper Mesopotamia and Lower Mesopotamia.
You can’t ignore the importance of Upper Mesopotamia, also called the Jazirah in world history, because this 250-mile flat region in the north of the Euphrates River was home to the Assyrians, the fierce warriors of the ancient world.
From the southern part of the mountains of Anatolia, the Euphrates River was born. On the southeast side, the Tigris River crawled down to the Persian Gulf. It was typically a flat land partly covered by a limestone range in Sarazur, Hainrin, and Sinjar. This undulated wilderness represented the people’s simple habitation in the past.
You must recall that Upper Mesopotamia was a premiere region in antiquity, particularly when the Neolithic Revolution or the Agricultural Revolution flourished. This phenomenon changed the course of livelihood of mankind across the world. Suitable for farming and domesticating animals, you can suppose that ancient people formed permanent habitation in their chosen areas at that time.
The mountains in Mesopotamia, which served as home to the hardworking civilizations in the past, enabled them to cultivate the soil for their livelihood. Lower Mesopotamia was inhabited by the Sumerian and Babylonian people.
Known for their improved farming skills, the Sumerians introduced agriculture in the sprawling land, which provided abundant grains and crops. This innovation opened the door for the agricultural revolution, which sustained many civilizations in ancient times.
Meanwhile, the region of Edin sprang in the alluvial plain of Babylonia, and it was generally frequented by the Bedouins as pastureland for their growing flocks owned by their Babylonian lords. You could tell that the green grass appeared inviting to the large flock.
The Benefits of Irrigation Canals in Mesopotamia
The land of Mesopotamia is said to be promising with its fertile soil that produced various crops for the farmers. The presence of the Tigris and Euphrates advanced the construction of irrigation canals, which served as the lifeline of the farms. The quality of land remained the same 10,000 years ago, but the supply of water was made stable by the flow of water coming from the irrigation systems.
You can recount that permanent settlers then were gifted with a vast land that they used for farming and animal husbandry in 6000 BC. Instead of waiting for the annual rainfall, farmers made innovations to secure the growth of crops. This abundant presence of water provided a regular supply of food to the people, which advanced the development of cities in those regions sometime in 3500 BC.
The irrigation systems helped the people to provide crops for their families without worrying about the coming of rains. This agricultural breakthrough enabled the people to plant more and naturally harvest more.
Resources in Mesopotamia
Would you believe that the result of the development in agriculture led to the formation of cities deemed to be the earliest in the world? These cities were found in the southern part of Mesopotamia, close to the Persian Gulf. Babylon spearheaded the group of cities that sprang out in the southern region.
The people in these cities were innovative and diligent. They never ran out of ideas to secure their crops throughout the region. Rain or shine, the people were able to plant crops, making the region famous as the “fertile crescent” because of the bountiful resources available for the people.
Considering this affluent life, you would never imagine that ancient cities formed in the middle of the deserts in Mesopotamia would produce a sufficient supply of food. Prosperity followed, and people from other cities heard about this abundance. Hence, trading began in Mesopotamia.
Not only was the water good for farming, but you must also not forget that the same rivers provided water for the people’s daily needs, such as drinking, bathing, and cleaning.
They also contributed to the food of the people with the abundant presence of fish, ducks, and geese. More surprisingly, the people were able to gather tons of mud from the riverbanks. This mud was useful for their pottery and brick making.
You know that they had insufficient wood for housing because they were surrounded by deserts, but the ample presence of mud enabled them to bake mud bricks for their abodes. Such ingenuity helped them create impressive materials for their survival.
Needless to say, the rivers favored the ancient people with a plethora of resources. With these bountiful provisions, ancient Mesopotamians developed a rich civilization that served as the foundation of our modern society.
Mesopotamia was born as an island between two historical rivers, where great civilizations were developed. You will be in awe at the immeasurable contributions of this fertile land to the evolution of mankind, as well as its roles in the advancement of man in the fields of agriculture, science, mathematics, and architecture.
With its timeless contributions in history, you can safely say that Mesopotamia emerged to sustain the needs of people. Upper Mesopotamia was the great refuge of the Assyrians, while Lower Mesopotamia was home to the Sumerians and the Babylonians.
Much has been told about the history behind Mesopotamia, but the most profound is its immense generosity to the millions of people who have lived in its prosperous grounds. Truly, civilizations are favored by the land. People may live and die, but the land remains loyal for the next generations to come.