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On the other hand, wood, stone, and metal were rare or even entirely absent.The date palm—virtually the national tree of Iraq—yields a Metal can only be obtained in the mountains, and the same is true of precious and semiprecious stones.Modern scholars assume the ability to assess the sum total of an “ancient Mesopotamian civilization”; but, since the publication of an article by the Assyriologist Benno Landsberger on “Die Eigenbegrifflichkeit der babylonischen Welt” (1926; “The Distinctive Conceptuality of the Babylonian World”), it has become almost a commonplace to call attention to the necessity of viewing ancient Mesopotamia and its civilization as an independent entity.Ancient Mesopotamia had many languages and cultures; its history is broken up into many periods and eras; it had no real geographic unity, and above all no permanent capital city, so that by its very variety it stands out from other civilizations with greater uniformity, particularly that of Egypt.An English survey of ruined settlements in the area 30 miles around ancient Hatra (180 miles northwest of Baghdad) has shown that the southern limits of the zone in which agriculture is possible without artificial irrigation has remained unchanged since the first settlement of Al-Jazīrah.The availability of raw materials is a historical factor of great importance, as is the dependence on those materials that had to be imported.In Mesopotamia, agricultural products and those from stock breeding, fisheries, date palm cultivation, and reed industries—in short, grain, vegetables, meat, leather, wool, horn, fish, dates, and reed and plant-fibre products—were available in plenty and could easily be produced in excess of home requirements to be exported.There are bitumen springs at Hīt (90 miles northwest of Baghdad) on the Euphrates (the Is of Herodotus).
At any rate, the similarity of certain themes in cuneiform literature and the Hebrew Bible, such as the story of the Flood or the motif of the righteous sufferer, is due to such early contacts and not to direct borrowing.sexagesimal system for the calculation of time and angles, which is still practical because of the multiple divisibility of the number 60; the Greek day of 12 “double-hours”; and the zodiac and its signs.
The raw material that epitomizes Mesopotamian civilization is clay: in the almost exclusively mud-brick architecture and in the number and variety of clay figurines and pottery artifacts, Mesopotamia bears the stamp of clay as does no other civilization, and nowhere in the world but in Mesopotamia and the regions over which its influence was diffused was clay used as the vehicle for cuneiform literature, and cuneiform law can apply only where people had had the idea of using soft clay not only for bricks and jars and for the jar stoppers on which a seal could be impressed as a mark of ownership but also as the vehicle for impressed signs to which established meanings were assigned—an intellectual achievement that amounted to nothing less than the invention of writing.
Questions as to what ancient Mesopotamian civilization did and did not accomplish, how it influenced its neighbours and successors, and what its legacy has transmitted are posed from the standpoint of modern civilization and are in part coloured by ethical overtones, so that the answers can only be relative.
Consequently,irrigation had been invented, bringing water to large stretches of territory through a widely branching network of canals.
Since the ground is extremely fertile and, with irrigation and the necessary drainage, will produce in abundance, southern Mesopotamia became a land of plenty that could support a considerable population.
Only from the latitude of Baghdad do the Euphrates and Tigris truly become twin rivers, the Kārūn River in Persia has always been closely related to Mesopotamia, but it is not considered part of Mesopotamia as it forms its own river system.