The Ancient History of Mesopotamia
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The Ancient History of Mesopotamia

Some time in the early fourth millennium B.C. in Mesopotamia, a critical event (the settlement of the great river valleys) took place.  It was after this that writing , art, monumental architecture, and new political forms were introduced in Mesopotamia.

sumer:  At the dawn of recorded history, the lower Mesopotamian valley was occupied by the Sumerians.  They were an agricultural people who learned to control floods and built strong-walled towns, such as Uruk, the biblical Erech and the modern Warka, and Lagash, the modern Al-Hiba.  Sumerian influence, especially through language, extended widely from its base in southern Mesopotamia, Eastward to Susa Iran, Northward to Assur, and Westward to Syria.

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 Scenes of War, panel from the Standard of Ur, 2700 B.C. (British Museum, London)   



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Ziggurat at Ur, 2100 B.C. (IRAQ)


AKKAD:  At about 2300 B.C. Sumer came under the domination of a great ruler, Sargon of Akkad.  The Akkadian although Semitic in origin and speaking a language entirely different from that of Sumer, had assimilated Sumerian culture. 

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Victory Stele on Naram-Sin, 2300-2200 B.C. (Louvre, Paris)


GUTI:  The achievements of Akkad were brought to an end by an incursion of barbarous mountaineers, the Guti, who dominated life in central Mesopotamia for about 60 years.

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Gudea Worshiping, Telloh, 2100 B.C. (Louvre, Paris)


NEO-SUMERIAN:  At about 2100 B.C. Under the king of Ur,  Gudea the Sumerians reasserted themselves.

Babylonia:  Under the rule of its most powerful King, Hammurabi, whom was able to reestablish a centralized government that ruled the whole country.  Hammurabi was famous for his written laws found on the Stele of Hammurabi 1880 B.C.

  irqbablc.jpg (14146 bytes) The Stele of Hammurabi, 1880 B.C. (Louvre, Paris)


Assyria The Assyrian Dynasty:  Under a king named Shamshi Adad, the Assyrians Dominated the North part of Mesopotamia. By About 900 B.C. the Assyrian dominated the Near East for about three centuries and extended from the Tigris to the Nile and from the Arab/Persian Gulf to Asia Minor.  Sargon II Proclaimed himself as King of the World, and regarded his city and palace as expression of his grandeur, which he viewed as founded on the submission and enslavement of his enemies.

irathor2.jpg (14024 bytes)  Winged Human-Headed Bull (Louvre, Paris)


NEO-BABYLONIA The CHALDEAN DYNASTY:  Babylonians rose again and a brief renewal (612-538 B.C.), the old southern Mesopotamian culture flourished, especially under the storied King Nebuchadnezzar, whose exploits we read about in the book of Daniel.   Nebuchadnezzar made Babylon a fabulous City once again, and its famous "Hanging Gardens" on of the seven wonders of the world. 

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Lion from the Processional Way, Ishtar Gate 575 B.C. (Louvre, Paris) 

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Lion of Babylon (Babylon, Iraq)