The Mesopotamian climate is hot and dry. An arid climate in the mainly desert region of Mesopotamia, its latitude and elevation are on the mid to high range above sea level, making their summers and springs very hot and their falls and winters relatively cold.

Scientists recorded that summers of that region can get up to 100 Fahrenheit on average, and in the winters, drop to the low 30 Fahrenheit.

Mesopotamia rests between the Euphrates and Tigris rivers. The geography of this location has been imperative to the agriculture and social dynamic of ancient Mesopotamia. Oil, fertile soil, drinking water, and irrigation have been crucial to the survival and expansion of the Mesopotamian region.

The flooding of these two rivers occurred in the spring, March through June. The flooding was caused by the melted snowcaps on the Zagros Mountains that rested far north of Mesopotamia. When the snow melted, the water would flow into the rivers. The overflow caused swamps in lowland areas near the rivers, creating easy access to making canals and channels for irrigation. Often the river would be used to transport crates filled with goods or waste as well.

Since elevation regarding sea level was different in the north of Mesopotamia than in the south of Mesopotamia, the average temperature would be different year-round. In the north, near the Zagros Mountains, the temperature is a lot cooler. Near the Zagros Mountains in the north, there would be much more rainfall creating a more humid and damp climate in this region.

The reason for the climate of Mesopotamia and the Near East to be so dry is due to the latitude of the area. Precipitation, or rainfall, varies due to longitude, latitude, and central time. The latitude and longitude of a location are split up by “zones.” Zones such as the equator, the Tropic of Cancer, and the Tropic of Capricorn. Areas closest to the equator and farthest from the tropics of the earth get the most rainfall. In contrast, areas near the tropic areas get less and less rainfall. The Near East and Mesopotamia are right on the Tropic of Cancer, causing them to be in an arid region with little rainfall.

Mesopotamian Weather Through the Seasons

Like all other places in the world, Mesopotamia experienced four main seasons: spring, summer, fall, and winter. Yet, Mesopotamian seasons look different from a country in Europe far north due to their geographical location. So a lot of meteorologists give ancient and modern Mesopotamia two seasons. A wet and rainy season, and a dry and not rainy season. Let’s take a look at the average temperature and rainfall of each season in Mesopotamia.

Fall and spring were their wet and rainy seasons. For them, it was a time of rebirth and renewal from a previous harsh winter. The flowers bloom after being pollinated by bees, plants are hydrated with rain, and animals are alarmingly active. For most Mesopotamians, this would be the time to begin planting for the next harvest after they’ve finished cultivating the fruits of this previous one.

Grains such as wheat, barley, and rice are replanted and the soil tilled; fruits and vegetables begin life again, and preparations for the upcoming floods are noted. The average temperature could get to the high 80 Fahrenheit, and record springs and summers are noted to be over 110 Fahrenheit.

A summer in Mesopotamia consisted of less rainfall than in the spring and all. Summer and winter were their dry and not rainy seasons. Rainfall was sparse during this season, and drinking water had to be saved and stored in rations by the people. As noted earlier, nights in the dry seasons were very cold. The average rainfall at this time was seen to be 10-inches of rain each year.

Mesopotamian Weather and Agriculture: The Fertile Crescent

The two most important rivers to the Mesopotamians, the Tigris, and the Euphrates, swim into the Persian Gulf.

This area near the Persian Gulf, where the Tigris, Euphrates, and the Egyptian’s famous Nile River flows, is often penned the “Fertile Crescent.

The Fertile Crescent was home to all of Mesopotamia, Egypt, and modern-day Lebanon, Jordan, and Israel.

The Fertile Crescent was dependant and affected by the climate at the time. Rainfall giving more water and an easy time for crops to grow.

Historians once called this area the “cradle of civilization,” and it’s easy to see why. The overabundance of freshwater allowed all soil and plant life in the region to thrive. Despite the waters being destructive to homes at the time, the benefits of agriculture blooming because of these rivers outweighed its preventable destruction.

The Fertile Crescent was home to various animals the Mesopotamians used for breeding, farming, and sacrifice. Around 9000 BCE, goats, pigs, and cows were domesticated used for human consumption, sacrifices, and trades. Other kinds of wheat were mentioned earlier, and legumes like peas, beans, and nuts were cultivated. Around 5000-4000 BCE, olive trees, horses, grapevines, and leather began to be traded, domesticated, and cultivated in the area.

Depending on if one was in the south or north of Mesopotamia, there would be different crop years based on the weather. Dry agriculture that used no irrigation or flooding happened in the north of Mesopotamia. As stated earlier, the rainfall from the Zagros mountains aided in the crop yielding of cereals and kinds of wheat. Irrigation agriculture depended on the destructive floods in the south of the region.

In the early days of irrigation, farmers and laborers would siphon water from the Tigris and Euphrates using canals, baskets, and specific types of water lifts. The Jerwan aqueduct, built by King Sennacherib I of Assyria, was the first aqueduct ever built. It changed the way the Mesopotamians were able to use and channel water, which was constructed around 703 and 680 BCE.

An Apocalyptic Drought and the Akkadian Empire

For a long time, Mesopotamia was the cultural and societal ruler of the world. A superpower by today’s standards. T

he union of Mesopotamia was achieved truly by the Akkadian empire, but the power of Mesopotamia suddenly collapsed, leaving scientists and archaeologists puzzled as to why.

Most historians believed invasions from more extraordinary powers from the north and south caused the fall, or failing socioeconomic and political problems destroyed the nation. But a look at the weather and climate could give specific insight into the collapse of this once great nation of Akkad, or the united Mesopotamia.

A catastrophic drought that lasted 300 years is thought to be the reason this empire fell. Paleoclimatologists who work as researchers at Oxford University found evidence of this drought while examining stalagmite, calcite, dolomite, and other mineral sediments in a cave in Northern Iraq. The cause of this seemingly abrupt drought is unknown.

Since the Mesopotamian empire was dependent on the Fertile Crescent for their expansion and abundance, this invaluable resource being depleted caused citizens to migrate to other areas.

Before the paleoclimatologists researched stalagmites and other minerals, historians believed that irresponsible use of the land depleted the rivers of water. Agriculture innovation was thought to have eroded the soil over time, and geopolitics attested to water use. The Mesopotamians were the first to use water as a weapon, and this caused tension over who controlled the amount of water being used before Mesopotamia was united under Akkad. Because of this, experts thought the abuse of these resources politically was the reason for the fall of the Mesopotamian Akkadian empire.

Conclusion

The ancient Mesopotamian climate is vital to the birth of civilizations, showing that the arid environment and the abundance of water is a key to making things, and an entire birth of humans, grow and thrive. Today in the Middle East, countries such as Jordan, Iraq, modern Egypt, and other places still have continual uses of their rivers that connect to the Persian Gulf.

  • Mesopotamia has an arid climate.
  • Sea level rise and elevation affected the rainfall in the north and south of Mesopotamia.
  • The Zagros Mountains conducted more rainfall for the north.
  • The south lowlands were prone to destructive flooding, yet the flooding proved useful.
  • The reason for Mesopotamia to have such a dry and arid climate is due to it being far from the equator and close to the Tropic of Cancer.
  • The Fertile Crescent is the birth of civilization and the reason for the expansion of the Akkadian Mesopotamian empire.
  • The Jerwan aqueduct is the first aqueduct constructed in history.
  • Paleoclimatists believe that a 300-year drought brought the end of the Mesopotamian civilization.

Now that you know what the Mesopotamian climate was like, you might think it would have been a challenging life since we are all comfortable in our homes with a cooler environment instead of a hotter one. But it is because of their climate that the birth of civilizations happened.

Learning this part of history can be beneficial to us that even with their environment, they survived and achieved many things, meaning we can do the same as well.

 

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