Friday, November 12, 2010

The Cradle of Civilization

     My 6th graders just finished chapter one in the book which discusses the early civilizations.  The big name of the location is Mesopotamia.  The word Mesopotamia means "land between the rivers."  Mesopotamia was located mostly in present day Iraq and Syria.  The two rivers are the Tigris and Euphrates.  Something significant about these rivers is that they are the two mentioned in the book of Genesis because they flowed through the Garden of Eden.  Also, Mesopotamia was also in the region known as the Fertile Crescent. 
     This region was called the Fertile Crescent for several reasons.  First, and obviously, the shape of the region was curved like a crescent.  Second, the abundance of water from the two rivers (what were they again?) helped with the irrigation and cultivation of the land for growing crops.  Finally, land is not described as fertile without good soil for growing.  Abundance of water and access to it, along with the rich soil, means plentiful agriculture.  Growth of agriculture gave way to growth of populations.  Villages grew into towns and towns grew into cities.  The first city-states were created in Mesopotamia.  These city-states grew into complex societies known as civilizations.
     The Sumerians created the first writing system known as cuneiform.  Sargon, king of the Akkadians, established the world's first empire.  Hammurabi, king of the Babylonians, took the laws of the surrounding city-states and compiled them into one code...the Code of Hammurabi.  Out of Nineveh arose the Assyrians, who were the first to use iron weapons.  The Assyrians were very cruel to those that they conquered, however there was one civilization that rebelled.  They were the Chaldeans, led by the one and only Nebuchadnezzar.
     There is one more thing to add.  With the creation of the first writing system by the Sumerians, there was the first written story, The Epic of Gilgamesh.  In this epic, there is the mentioning of the gods having an assembly and deciding to destroy their people.  They decided to destroy their people in the sea because they were doing evil things.  Does this sound familiar to anyone?  According to the book of Genesis, God decided that mankind was evil and wicked and needed to be destroyed in a great flood, save one family, led by Noah.  Noah was told to build an ark and collect two of each animal to put in the ark in order that mankind would start over.  Tune in next time to: "Walk Like an Egyptian".

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