Ancient Mesopotamian Inventions
When asked about the culture I would write about, I immediately thought about my Arabic culture and wanted to dig deeper into the ancient history of my homeland, Syria. Syrian culture has long been known to be just as unique as all the other Middle Eastern countries around it. Syria's history of innovations and inventions dates back to Mesopotamia 4000 BC. The oldest and first civilization in the world.
Mesopotamia was a vast land in the Middle East that stretched along the Euphrates and Tigris rivers, then a bit to the south towards the Nile. It was the land that is divided today into Syria and Iraq in the center, with a part of eastern Turkey to the northwest, a small part of Iran f to the east, then Lebanon and Palestine, and some parts of Egypt to the south. It was a rich land in culture and resources, and was known as the cradle of civilizations.
Mesopotamians are a huge part of the world's history, as they were responsible for many innovations that have left an imprint for all the decades that came after. The Mesopotamian land held several Empires known to be the oldest civilizations in the world. It was divided to the Sumerian, Babylonian, Akkadian, and Assyrian civilizations. Each of which held many inventions and creations that later developed and changed the world.
The Start of Great Inventions that Changed the World
The very first system of proto writing and language called the Cuneiform writing (also known as the Sumer-Akkadian Cuneiform) was invented by the Sumerians in ancient Mesopotamia around 3500 – 3000 BC. The writings were preserved on clay tablets, and they used a reed stylus that left wedge-shaped marks that translated into both Sumerian and Akkadian languages spoken at the time.
The Mesopotamian cities and states were also the very first civilizations that started urbanization. And as their states and cities grew, they introduced more inventions like wheeled carts and chariots.
They developed the first two-wheeled chariot in which a driver drove a singular or team of animals. There is evidence Sumerians had such carts for transportation in the 3000's BC.
The ancient people of Mesopotamia were famous for making beautiful pottery by hand, and the Sumerians were the first to develop the turning wheel, a device which allowed them to mass-produce pottery. That enabled them to produce large numbers of items such as containers, vessels, pots, vases, bowls, and so much more. And I have written a blog dedicated to the potters wheel that you can read here.
In Anatolia's areas in Mesopotamia, copper was used as early as 6500 BC to make tools and functional items. Later came the Bronze Age 2000 BC, when Mesopotamians invented Bronze by mixing tin into melted copper to make a stronger and more durable metal. It is said, though, that traces of bronze in Mesopotamia go back to 3300 BC but didn’t become well known and common till the 2000's BC. Later on they even popularized the use of iron.
Mesopotamia's innovations are too many to count, but I would like to mention a few more that are important. Assyrians, in Mesopotamia, domesticated the horse and the ox and domesticated crops. They also invented the 360-degree circle and Hammurabi’s Code of Law. They came up with the first guitar, the first Libraries, the first magnifying glass, the first postal system, locks and keys, paved roads, plumbing, and flushing toilets. They made all sort of clocks, and invented the Sexagesimal Clock (the beginning of how we tell time today), and they came up with many other military, artistic, and architectural achievements we know and use today.
The Great Ziggurat:
Sumerians built walled cities made of mud and clay, and developed city-states which operated as its own country. The Ziggurat of Ur is a Neo-Sumerian temple built during the Early Bronze Age, and was located in what was the city of Ur near Nasiriyah, in present-day Dhi Qar Province, Iraq. The structure was outstanding and impressive.
The Ishtar Gate:
Neo-Babylonians were famous for their colorful and brightly glazed bricks. They would make and build all sorts of architectural and artistic forms. They would shape the bricks and apply them with relief. This is popularly seen in the Ishtar Gate that was constructed by the Babylonians in 575 BC, by order of King Nebuchadnezzar II, and was dedicated to "Ishtar" – the goddess of fertility, love, war and sex. The Ishtar Gate was the eighth gate to the inner city of Babylon on the north side of the city, and was part of a grand walled processional path leading into the city. It was filled with bright blue and golden-yellow glazed bricks. The walls of the gate bared animal and figurative art with cut and shaped glazed bricks and ceramic that portrayed the way of life in Mesopotamia. The animals represented on the gate are young bulls, lions, and dragons. These animals were symbolic representations of certain deities: lions were often associated with the goddess, Ishtar, bulls with Adad - the weather god of the Babylonian and Assyrian pantheon, and dragons with Marduk - the Babylonian king of the gods, who presided over justice, compassion, healing, regeneration, magic, and fairness. The animals were shaped with yellow and brown tiles, while the bricks surrounding them were all blue. The blue enameled tiles are thought to be of lapis lazuli, as it was a very popular stone in Mesopotamia that was even more valuable than gold.