The Fertile Crescent: The Fertile Crescent runs from the Taurus Mountains in the north to the Arabian Desert in the south, and from the Eastern Mediterranean to the Zagros Mountains. Ancient Mesopotamia is located within the Fertile Crescent, but the Crescent covers more geography than ancient Mesopotamia. Today, the Crescent includes such countries as Syria, Lebanon, Cyprus, Jordan, Palestine, Iraq, Kuwait, as well as the Sinai Peninsula and northern Mesopotamia.
Ancient Mesopotamia was mostly in the same area as modern day Iraq, positioned between two rivers, the Tigris and Euphrates. The word Mesopotamia is Greek meaning "the land between the rivers". Ancient Mesopotamia included an area that was about 300 miles long and about 150 miles wide. These rivers flow into the Persian Gulf. The land was very fertile. In the Northern part of Mesopotamia, rivers and streams were fed from the mountains. In addition, there was a rainy season that helped water the soil. While the southern region was much hotter and dryer, the two large rivers, the Tigris and the Euphrates, allowed for irrigation. The land between the rivers was filled with wildlife and edible vegetation. People who wandered into the area discovered they could plant crops and store food to add to the natural food supply. With the discovery of agriculture, people began to settle down, and build homes and then villages and then towns and then cities.
People developed new inventions to take advantage of the geography, inventions like the first sailboat, the wheel, and the first plow.
The Cradle of Civilization: The geography of ancient Mesopotamia had a huge effect on civilization.
Cause: People developed agriculture. Effect: A steady supply of food was available.
Cause: A steady supply of food was available. Effect: Development of permanent housing.
Cause: Development of permanent housing. Effect: Beginnings of government. This is why ancient Mesopotamia is nicknamed the Cradle of Civilization.
Mapping Mesopotamia: The geographic features you will need to identify on a test or quiz will probably include the following:
- City of Ur
- City of Uruk
- City of Babylon
- Tigris River
- Euphrates River
- Syrian Desert
- Arabian Desert
- Taurus Mountains
- Zagros Mountains
- Persian Gulf