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Mesopotamia: c. 3500-1200 BC/BCE


Students analyze the geographic, political, economic, social, and religious structures of the civilizations of Mesopotamia.


Cosmographia Claudii Ptolomaei
Cosmographia Claudii Ptolomaei

Created in 1467, this map shows the region around the Mediterranean Sea in the Middle East. The inscriptions are in Latin and it was created at Reichenbach Monastery by Nicholaus Germanus.

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Oriental Empires
Oriental Empires

The Oriental Empires about 600 B.C, from The Historical Atlas by William R. Shepherd, 1923. Perry-Castañeda Library Map Collection, Historical Maps of the Middle East

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Ancient Sumerian Cuneiform
Ancient Sumerian Cuneiform

View more examples and its translation.

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Cosmographia Claudii Ptolomaei
Cosmographia Claudii Ptolomaei

Created in 1467, this map shows the region around the Mediterranean Sea in the Middle East. The inscriptions are in Latin and it was created at Reichenbach Monastery by Nicholaus Germanus.

press to zoom



  • How did religion, government, and family life influence the civilization of Sumer?

  • Why were Hammurabi and his reforms important?

  • How did the developments of Mesopotamia influence other civilizations?

  • What was the geography of Mesopotamia and why was its location important to its survival?



“The ancient kingdom of Mesopotamia, which flourished in the region that became Iraq, is what textbooks like to call the birthplace of urban civilization. The Mesopotamians were the first to record their thoughts in writing, the first to divide the day into 24 hours, the first to eat off ceramic plates." ~Deborah Solomon


"In the valley of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers (Mesopotamia) and soon after in the valley of the Nile in Egypt, human beings moved from a life in agricultural villages, using tools of wood, bone, shell, and stone, into a much richer and more varied social organization that we call civilization" ~ O. Kagan


"The Mesopotamians viewed their city-states as earthly copies of a divine model and order. Each city-state was sacred because it was linked to a god or goddess. Hence, Nippur, the earliest center of Sumerian religion, was dedicated to Enlil, god of Wind. Moreover, located at the heart of each major city-state was a temple complex. Occupying several acres, this sacred area consisted of a ziggurat with a temple at the top dedicated to the god or goddess who owned the city. The temple complex was the true center of the community. The main god or goddess dwelt there symbolically in the form of a statue, and the ceremony of dedication included a ritual that linked the statue to the god or goddess and thus supposedly harnessed the power of the deity for the city's benefit....Although the gods literally owned the city, the temple complex used only part of the land and rented out the remainder" ~ Jackson Spielvogel, Ph.D.



  • Access to water leads to the development of a civilization's resources, trade and inventions.

  • Humans shape and adapt to their environment to meet their needs.

  • Creative use of one's surroundings/resources may lead to economic growth and stability.

  • Humans develop and continuously improve tools and other technologies to more efficiently meet their basic needs of food, shelter, and clothing.

  • Government power and authority shape the rights and responsibilities of individuals in societies.

  • Language, literature and the arts reflect the values and beliefs of a civilization.

  • Competition for scarce resources may lead to conflict and struggle.

  • Development of a strong infrastructure can strengthen a civilization.

  • Movement of goods, people, and ideas are conduits for cultural change.




  • city-state

  • artisans

  • ziggurat

  • cuneiform

  • scribe

  • priest-kings

  • empire

  • culture

  • reign

  • civilization

  • polytheism



  • Select the Map worksheets, the colors for different levels of difficulty

  • Select the Vocabulary packets

  • Select the Text Notes










Ancient Mesopotamia Song

By Mr. Nicky

Enjoy this catchy rap song which covers key facts related to the study of Mesopotamia.



Test your geography skills. For this quiz, you drag each country name onto the correct location on the map.

This quiz asks you to click on a specific country. It gives you three opportunities to get the correct answer and offers help if you request it. The same web site has map quizzes for all over the world.

Mesopotamia, an ancient Greek term meaning "the land between rivers," is considered to be the cradle of civilization because this is where we find the origins of agriculture, written language, and cities.Chosen from the Mesopotamian collection of the Oriental Institute Museum of the University of Chicago, this website tells the story of ancient Mesopotamia now present-day Iraq — a story shared by all humans. Learn more about Life in Mesopotamia.

Geography of Ancient Mesopotamia...

6.8 On a historical map, locate and describe the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers, Zagros and Caucuses Mountains, Persian Gulf, Caspian and Black Sea, Dead Sea and Sea of Galilee and explain why the region is referred to as the Fertile Crescent.





Successive Civilizations and Empires

6.9 Summarize Sumer, Babylon, and Assyria as successive civilizations and empires and explain the development of city-states, identify Kish, Akkad, Ur, and Nineveh, and the significance of Sargon and Hammurabi.








Development of Agricultural Techniques

6.10 Trace the development of agricultural techniques that permitted economic surplus and the emergence of cities as centers of culture and power.


Explore the agricultural practices and technological devices that led to the rise of civilization in Mesopotamia. Meet the nomadic people who became farmers. And see how they established city-states, developed specialized work skills, and advanced organized religion.


Religious Beliefs in Mesopotamia

6.11 Explain the significance of polytheism (the belief that there are many gods) as the religious belief of the people in Mesopotamian civilizations.





John Roachfor National Geographic NewsOctober 30, 2003



Read from the eleven tables the translation of the Epic of Gilgamesh, perhaps the oldest written story on Earth.




A cuneiform tablet of Babylonian origin that describes this game has recently been discovered by Irving Finkel, curator at the British Museum.




See your monogram in cuneiform,the way an ancient Babylonian might have written it.



One of the "Seven Wonders of the World" ... explore and learn!

Mesopotamia:  What the Ancients Did for Us...BBC

6.12 Explain the effects of how irrigation, metal-smithing, slavery, the domestication of animals, and inventions such as the wheel, the sail, and the plow on the growth of Mesopotamian civilizations.





Mesopotamia (from Greek Μεσοποταμία "[land] between the rivers", rendered in Arabic as بلاد الرافدين bilād al-rāfidayn)[1] is a toponym for the area of the Tigris-Euphrates river system, along the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, largely corresponding to modern Iraq,[2] as well as some parts of northeastern Syria,[2] some parts of southeastern Turkey,[2] and some parts of the Khūzestān Province of southwestern Iran.[3][4]

Widely considered as the cradle of civilization, Bronze Age Mesopotamia included Sumer and the Akkadian, Babylonian and Assyrian empires. In the Iron Age, it was ruled by the Neo-Assyrian and Neo-Babylonian empires. The indiginous Sumerians and Akkadians (including Assyrians & Babylonians) dominated Mesopotamia from the dawn of written history circa 3100 BC to the fall of Babylon in 539 BC. It was then conquered by the Achaemenid Empire. It fell to Alexander the Great in 332 BC and after his death it became part of the Greek Seleucid Empire, by around 150 BC Mesopotamia was under the control of the Parthians. Mesopotamia became a battle ground between the Romans and Parthians, with parts of Mesopotamia (particularly Assyria) coming under periodic Roman control. In 226 AD it fell to the Sassanid Persians, and remained under Persian rule until the 7th century AD Arab Islamic conquest of the Sassanid Empire. A number of primarily Christian native Mesopotamian states existed beween the 1st Century BC and 3rd Century AD; Adiabene, Oshroene and Hatra. The Assyrians


The Cyrus Cylinder...

Who Invented Writing?




Welcome to Odyssey Online, a journey to explore the ancient Near East, Egypt, Greece, Rome, and 19th - 20th century sub-Saharan Africa. In Odyssey Online you'll find museum objects from the Michael C. Carlos Museum at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia and the Memorial Art Gallery of the University of Rochester in Rochester, New York, and the Dallas Museum of Art in Texas.


The Mesopotamians - They Might be Giants SONG

Directed by David Cowles. From the breakthrough 2007 album "The Else"

Primary Documents and Supporting Texts to Read: excerpts from the Epic of Gilgamesh; digital collections of the ancient Mesopotamian plow, wheel, sailboat, cuneiform tablets, and the stylus


Who invented Writing? What was Cuneiform? Oldest Writing, Ancient Mesopotamia [School History online]  A funny poem about how writing was invented thousands of years ago in ancient Sumer (Mesopotamia / Iraq) 
( )  Lesson ideas...

6.13 Analyze the important achievements of Mesopotamian civilization, including its system of writing (and its importance in record keeping and tax collection), literature (Epic of Gilgamesh), monumental architecture (the ziggurat), and art (large relief sculpture, mosaics, and cylinder seals).
Focus Question: How did writing, architecture, and art impact the development of Mesopotamian society?




Cuneiform Characters...

In the area between the Tigris and the Euphrates rivers, the Sumerians developed a written language. Examine how they carved cuneiform characters into clay tablets and then explore Sumerian myths.

6.14 Write an informative piece explaining the significant contributions of Mesopotamian leaders, including Hammurabi and Sargon, and explain the basic principle of justice in Hammurabi’s Code (“an eye for an eye”).




A Mesopotamian Ziggurat

A Mesopotamian Ziggurat

Chogha Zanbil ziggurat is one of the few existent ziggurats outside of Mesopotamia. It was built about 1250 BC by the king Untash-Napirisha. Chogha Zanbil, Iran. Photographed by Aneta Ribarska

Cuneiform Tablet

Cuneiform Tablet

In the British Museum, made from clay a Babylonian Map Tablet. An ancient map with inscription from Sippar in southern Iraq dated to c19th century BC. It is the only known map from the Neo-Babylonian period and it depicts a "birds eye" view of the world with Babylon at the center.

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