The region ceased to be a major power house since its inclusion in the Persian Empire of the Achaemenids, apparently as two satrapies, Babylonia in the south and Athura (from Assyria) in the north.
After the conquest of all Persia by the Hellenizing Macedonian king Alexander the Great, the satrapies were part of the major diadochy, the Seleucid Empire, almost until its elimination by Greater Armenia in 42 BC.
Most of Mesopotamia then became part of the Parthian Empire of the Arsakides.
However part, in the northwest, became Roman. Under the Tetrarchy, this was divided into two provinces, called Osrhoene (around Edessa; roughly the modern-day border between Turkey and Syria) and Mesopotamia (a bit more northeast).
During the time of the Persian Empire of Sassanids, their much larger share of Mesopotamia was called Dil-i Iranshahr meaning "Iran's Heart" and the metropol Ctesiphon (facing ancient Seleukia across the Tigris), the capital of Persia, was situated in Mesopotamia.
Since the early caliphs annexed all Persia and advanced even further, Mesopotamia was reunited, but governed as two provinces: northern Mesopotamia (with Mosul) and southern Iraq (with Baghdad, the later caliphal capital).
The climate is exceedingly hot, but also very humid - the floods often unpredictable. Mesopotamians were at the mercy of their hostile environment, and believed themselves to be at the mercy of angry and irrational gods. The civilization which produced one of the seven wonders of the ancient world, the hanging gardens of Babylon, also compiled the Epic of Gilgamesh, a pessimistic portrayal of the futile search for immortality and human meaning. City states rose and fell, empires rose and fell, yet the human spirit of the Mesopotamians endured.
Mesopotamia did not have protection from natural boundaries.This led to constant migrations of Indo-European people from the area between the Black and Caspian seas. This lead to a constant migration and 'Cultural Diffusion', or the process where an existing culture adopts the traits of another and the two eventually merge into a new culture. As a result, a strong central government failed to develop in Mesopotamia. The dominant political unit was the 'City-State', a small area surrounding a large, complex city.
Ancient Mesopotamian riddles hit on sex, beer and politics NBC - January 27, 2012
Millennia before modern-day Americans made fun of their politicians or cracked crude jokes over a cold one, people in ancient Mesopotamia were doing much the same thing. The evidence of sex, politics and beer-drinking comes from a newly translated tablet, dating back more than 3,500 years, which reveals a series of riddles. The text is fragmentary in parts and appears to have been written by an inexperienced hand, possibly a student. The researchers aren't sure where the tablet originates, though they suspect its scribe lived in the southern part of Mesopotamia, near the Persian Gulf.
Mesopotamians had one of the first recorded languages. It was invented to keep track of farming and trade. The form of writing, called Pictograms that was used by the Mesopotamians was very simple. One mark indicated a number, the other indicated what was being counted. The writing was done by marking wet clay with a reed. Efficient and easy as this was it became much more difficult with higher numbers.
Gradually this system became out-dated and indograms came into use. Indograms solved the problem but were very difficult and hard to learn because a different symbol was used for each word. The next step became phonetic writing. Phonetic writing is the type of writing that we, and most other countries use. With all three forms of writing one problem remained; it took many years of study to learn how to read and write. Those who did earned the title of "scribe".
The Mesopotamian economy was based on farming. Irrigated fields provided the Mesopotamians with everything they needed to live. In Sumer you couldn't own your own land. The land was rented from the temple which controlled the land on behalf of the gods. All profits were considered to belong to the gods.
The Mesopotamian view on the supernatural is an inextricable mixture of Sumerian and Akkadian origin, influenced by an unknown substrate population. Most Sumerian literature is written by Akkadian speakers when Sumerian was an extinct language.
The alluvial plains in Mesopotamia are perfectly suitable for high food production. The economy was based on agriculture, predominantly the cultivation of barley. Barley was used as means of payment for wages in kind and daily rations. Barley was also the basis for the natural beverage: beer. Other products are oil (sesame seeds, linseed), flax, wheat and horticultural products. Herds of sheep and goats graze the meadows outside the season. Cattle pasture when sufficient water is available. Wool production was large and converted to an assortment of textile fabrics. The extreme south of Mesopotamia has always had a different economy (dates and fishing).
Apart from cereals the inhabitants of Mesopotamia themselves had little to offer. Cereals were indeed exported but was too bulky for donkey transport over long distances. Imported material from elsewhere were again exported. Like tin, an important metal for bronze, that in those times probably came out of Afghanistan (although there are many Tin-routes). It was exported to Anatolia, a major center of metal industry, where in extensive forests wood was abundantly available to fuel the furnaces. Other merchandise were dates, sesame oil and in particular craft materials. Babylonia had an extensive wool industry. Coupons of 4 by 4.5 meter were in the 19th century BCE transported by the hundreds. From Anatolia silver and gold was imported.
The irrigation system is attested already in very ancient times, the earliest around 6000 BCE. Through a system of dikes, dams and canals the precipitation in the mountainous region in the north is used in the south. This required a high level of organization of the society and collective efforts for the construction, maintenance, supervision and adjustments of the irrigation network. Over-irrigation and limited drainage gradually irrigating the fields, often causing ecological crisis. Together with the change of river flow, it stimulates throughout the Mesopotamian history the foundation of new settlements and cities. Our knowledge about the history of irrigation networks is limited by the difficulty of dating most of the water works.
Mesopotamian diseases are often blamed on pre-existing spirits: gods, ghosts, etc. However, each spirit was held responsible for only one of what we would call a disease in any one part of the body. So usually "Hand of God X" of the stomach corresponds to what we call a disease of the stomach. A number of diseases simply were identified by names, "bennu" for example.
Also, it was recognized that various organs could simply malfunction, causing illness. Gods could also be blamed at a higher level for causing named diseases or malfunctioning of organs, although in some cases this was a way of saying that symptom X was not independent as usual, but was caused in this case by disease Y.
It can also be shown that the plants used in treatment were generally used to treat the symptoms of the disease, and were not the sorts of things generally given for magical purposes to such a spirit. Presumably specific offerings were made to a particular god or ghost when it was considered to be a causative factor, but these offerings are not indicated in the medical texts, and must have been found in other texts.
By examining the surviving medical tablets it is clear that there were two distinct types of professional medical practitioners in ancient Mesopotamia. The first type of practitioner was the ashipu, in older accounts of Mesopotamian medicine often called a "sorcerer." One of the most important roles of the ashipu was to diagnose the ailment. In the case of internal diseases, this most often meant that the ashipu determined which god or demon was causing the illness.
The ashipu also attempted to determine if the disease was the result of some error or sin on the part of the patient. The phrase, "the Hand of..." was used to indicate the divine entity responsible for the ailment in question, who could then be propitiated by the patient.
The ashipu could also attempt to cure the patient by means of charms and spells that were designed to entice away or drive out the spirit causing the disease. The ashipu could also refer the patient to a different type of healer called an asu. He was a specialist in herbal remedies, and in older treatments of Mesopotamian medicine was frequently called "physician" because he dealt in what were often classifiable as empirical applications of medication. For example, when treating wounds the asu generally relied on three fundamental techniques: washing, bandaging, and making plasters. All three of these techniques of the asu appear in the world's oldest known medical document (c. 2100 BCE).
The knowledge of the asu in making plasters is of particular interest. Many of the ancient plasters (a mixture of medicinal ingredients applied to a wound often held on by a bandage) seem to have had some helpful benefits.
Beyond the role of the ashipu and the asu, there were other means of procuring health care in ancient Mesopotamia. One of these alternative sources was the Temple of Gula. Gula, often envisioned in canine form, was one of the more significant gods of healing.
While excavations of temples dedicated to Gula have not revealed signs that patients were housed at the temple while they were treated (as was the case with the later temples of Asclepius in Greece), these temples may have been sites for the diagnosis of illness. In his book Illness and Health Care in the Ancient Near East: the Role of the Temple in Greece, Mesopotamia, and Israel, Hector Avalos states that not only were the temples of Gula sites for the diagnosis of illness (Gula was consulted as to which god was responsible for a given illness), but that these temples were also libraries that held many useful medical texts.
The primary center for health care was the home, as it was when the ashipu or asu were employed. The majority of health care was provided at the patient's own house, with the family acting as care givers in whatever capacity their lay knowledge afforded them. Outside of the home, other important sites for religious healing were nearby rivers.
Mesopotamians believed that the rivers had the power to care away evil substances and forces that were causing the illness. Sometimes a small hut was set up for the afflicted person either near the home or the river to aid in the families centralization of home health care.
In ancient Mesopotamia, sex among the gods shook heaven and earth PhysOrg - April 23, 2018
Sexuality was central to life in ancient Mesopotamia, an area of the Ancient Near East often described as the cradle of western civilization roughly corresponding to modern-day Iraq, Kuwait, and parts of Syria, Iran and Turkey. It was not only so for everyday humans but for kings and even deities. Mesopotamian deities shared many human experiences, with gods marrying, procreating and sharing households and familial duties. However when love went wrong, the consequences could be dire in both heaven and on earth. Scholars have observed the similarities between the divine "marriage machine" found in ancient literary works and the historical courtship of mortals, although it is difficult to disentangle the two, most famously in so-called "sacred marriages", which saw Mesopotamian kings marrying deities. Divine sex : Gods, being immortal and generally of superior status to humans, did not strictly need sexual intercourse for population maintenance, yet the practicalities of the matter seem to have done little to curb their enthusiasm.
New Dam in Turkey Threatens to Flood Ancient City and Archaeological Sites National Geographic - February 21, 2014
From the Neolithic caves riddling its cliffs to the honey-colored, 15th-century minarets looming over its streets, Hasankeyf, Turkey, is a living museum of epic proportion. Rare birds soar around the crumbling towers of its Artuqid bridge. Shepherds' songs have echoed through its canyons for centuries, even as the area transformed from a Byzantine bishopric to an Arab fortress to an outpost in the Ottoman Empire. Almost every major Mesopotamian civilization has occupied this 12,000-year-old settlement site on the banks of the Tigris River in southeastern Turkey, not far from the border with Syria. But today's reigning power, the Turkish Republic, has a unique plan for Hasankeyf: submerging the ancient town beneath 200 feet (60 meters) of water.
Gods and Goddesses
MIDDLE EAST INDEX
ANCIENT CIVILIZATIONS INDEX
ALPHABETICAL INDEX OF ALL FILES
CRYSTALINKS HOME PAGE
PSYCHIC READING WITH ELLIE
2012 THE ALCHEMY OF TIME