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General Characteristics of Mesopotamian Civilization

HGW 5202 - General Characteristics of Mesopotamian Civilization. Throughout the country today known as Iraq two great rivers, the Tigris and the Euphrates, flow southeastward to the Persian Gulf. To the north and east of these rivers are mountains, to the south is the great Arabian desert. The fertile valleys of the Tigris and the Euphrates form the eastern arc of what is usually called the Fertile Crescent, the western arc of that crescent stretching down through Syria and Palestine to the borders of Egypt.

In both those areas of fertility civilizations sprang up in ancient times, but the Tigris-Euphrates valleys hold priority. For here, in all probability, is the real cradle of western civilization. Though there are still some scholars who argue for Egypt, the weight of the evidence seems almost conclusive that any early borrowing  of cultural elements was by Egypt and not vice versa.
General Characteristics of Mesopotamian Civilization

Gene)ral Characteristics of Mesopotamian Civilization

There is no one name which can be applied to the whole area drained by the Tigris and the Euphrates rivers. The word “Mesopotamia” really refers to the northern area only, while “Babylonia” refers to the southern part. But neither of these is an exact term, though during the long period of Babylonian supremacy the whole southern part of these valleys was under the control of Babylon. The ancient land of Sumer an Sumerian civilization, which was the parent of all other civilizations in this area, were absorbed, and even the Sumerian language died out. Our only justification, then, for using the word “Mesopotamia” to cover all the area in question is that its use has become conventional. The word itself means “the land between the rivers” and this is the general meaning we wish to convey.

General Characteristics of Mesopotamian Civilization

The area, unlike Egypt, does not form a natural entity, and the boundaries are not clearly defined. No warrior could ever say he had conquered Mesopotamia: he would never be able to boast that he had reached its natural frontiers and was prepared to defend them, as an Egyptian could say of his country. Yet the continuity of culture in this area is remarkable. All the conquerors and successors of the Sumerians adopted the main features of the original Sumerian culture, their gods, their festivals, their writing, their art and architecture.

The late Assyrian was in all respect far closer to his Sumerian forebears than to his Egyptian contemporaries.
This total civilization, in fact, stand out in marked contrast to that of the Egyptians the Egyptian civilization was grand and magnificent; but, as was shown in the last chapter, it was isolated, and it was totally alien to us. It was therefore studied as a whole for itself, rather than for its “contributions” to world civilization. Mesopotamian civilization, on the contrary, seems far closer to ours.

General Characteristics of Mesopotamian Civilization

The line of descent from ancient Sumer to ourselves is clear. Though the children of Israel were in bondage in Egypt, their Egyptian heritage was small. And though they were not taken into captivity in Babylon until their civilization had flourished for hundred of years and had taken on its most characteristic forms, there can be little doubt that it was influenced by Mesopotamian ideas institutions even Hebrew religion itself is concerned with questions raise by the Mesopotamian peoples, and it is own special way give answers to them. The Egyptian idea of static universe found no adherents in Mesopotamia, nor was its supreme self confidence or its king-god found acceptable. (Zulfahri Afiat)

Source: the heritage of the past to 1500, Steward C. Easton

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