Ancient history


Mesopotamia was home to part of humanity's first civilizations . The presence in his region of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers was fundamental for man, from the development of agriculture and animal husbandry, to settle down and form cities in that place. Diverse people inhabited Mesopotamia during Antiquity Among them, the following stand out:

  • Sumerians,
  • amoritas,
  • Assyrian and
  • Chaldeans.

Also read: Babylonian Captivity - Enslavement of the Hebrews in the City of Babylon


Mesopotamia belonged to a region located in the Middle East (predominantly in present-day Iraq) between two important rivers:Tigris and Euphrates . Its natural conditions, mainly because of the fertility of the soil, allowed small villages to be formed on its territory.

Soil fertility was guaranteed by the flood cycle of the two rivers that soaked the soil with organic material and allowed the development of agriculture and animal husbandry. The word “Mesopotamia” comes from the Greek language and means “land between rivers ” in a direct mention of the importance of the rivers for that region.

Peoples of Mesopotamia ​

  • Sumerians

The first people who settled in the region in a sedentary way were the Sumerians. The first cities in Mesopotamia were founded by them and the Sumerians are believed to have arrived there around 5000 BC .

Some of the important cities built by the Sumerians were Ur, Uruk and Nippur. Sumerian cities were considered city-states, that is, they were organized independently of each other.

The Sumerians were extremely important for human development, because there they developed techniques for important constructions that allowed man to maintain control over nature. These people developed dams to prevent the flow of water from the rivers during the flood season, as well as reservoirs and irrigation canals.

In addition, the Sumerians are credited with developing humanity's first form of writing:cuneiform writing. Created to maintain control over the accounts of royal palaces, this writing was done on clay blocks with a pointed instrument called a wedge.

  • Akkadians

Sumerian rule in Mesopotamia ended with the arrival of the Akkadians, who conquered the cities in the region and founded the Akkadian Empire . They had as their main king Sargon I, or Sargon of Akkad. However,the empire of the Akkadians was very brief and was soon replaced by the Amorites as the predominant people in Mesopotamia.

  • Amorites or Babylonians

The Amorites, also known as the Babylonians, settled in the region around 2000 BC, occupied the city of Babylon and turned it into a major urban and commercial center of Mesopotamia. Historians claim that important trade routes passed through the city and that traders arrived from different parts of the ancient world.

The Amorite settlement in Babylon led to the formation of the First Babylonian Empire. The Amorites suffered strong Sumerian influence and their most important king was Hammurabi, responsible for the development of a code grouping ancient Mesopotamian laws that became known as the Code of Hammurabi.

This code was based on a principle known as Talion Law, which has as its motto “an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth”, that is, whoever committed a crime had as a penalty a punishment proportionate to the damage he had caused. The Code of Hammurabi was preceded by other sets of laws in Mesopotamia, such as the Code of Ur Nammu.

  • Assyrians

The kingdom of the Amorites weakened after the death of Hammurabi and was succeeded later by the Assyrians. The Assyrians formed an extremely militarized society from the end of the second millennium BC. and began a process of expansion and conquest in Mesopotamia around 1200 BC. They conquered all of Mesopotamia, in addition to Palestine, Egypt and part of Persia .

The Assyrians were famous for being fearsome warriors who used violent techniques in combat and for treating their prisoners with extreme brutality. The conquered peoples, in addition to being ruled in a tyrannical way, were obliged to pay heavy tributes. The violence of the Assyrians has been raised by historians as the reason that started numerous revolts that weakened the power of the Assyrians around the 7th century BC.

The most important king of the Assyrians was Ashurbanipal , who was known for being a scholar and for having the Library of Nineveh built (main city of Assyria). This library contained thousands of cuneiform texts on a variety of subjects, and much of what is known about Mesopotamia today comes from the Library of Nineveh.

Also read: What are the origins of the Assyrians?

  • Chaldeans

The weakening of the Assyrians allowed the Chaldeans to conquer Mesopotamia and found the Second Babylonian Empire in 612 BC. The empire formed by this people was brief and had with the main king Nebuchadnezzar, responsible for reconquering Palestine and all of Mesopotamia. This king is credited with building the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, considered one of the wonders of the ancient world.

The empire of the Chaldeans was the last developed by a Mesopotamian people. His hold was weakened after Nebuchadnezzar's death and so they were conquered by the Persians, led by Cyrus II in 539 BC. The Persians were a people originally from Persia, a region of present-day Iran.

Image credit

[1] IR Stone/Shutterstock